The Kroger Co. is the latest retailer looking to leverage its relationship with consumers to gain share n the clinical trial space.

Its healthcare division, Kroger Health, is recruiting participants for the Persephone Biosciences-sponsored Argonaut clinical study, which identifies biomarkers indicating colorectal cancer and other types of solid tumors to help guide treatment options. Select Kroger pharmacies and The Little Clinic locations, starting in the Toledo, Ohio, area, will enroll an initial group of 55 people at varying risk levels for the disease. Kroger plans to add participants and locations over the next year. All clinics may participate in the initiative in the future, the company said.

Kroger Health said its data analytics capabilities will allow it to reach a wider range of people for the clinical trials, including underserved communities often left out of the research process. The Cincinnati-based company said its group of clinics, dieticians and pharmacy services, plus partnerships with healthcare organizations, will help with end-to-end trial management.

Kroger’s footprint spans more than 2,200 pharmacies and 226 clinics across 35 states.

“This colorectal cancer research supports identification of the microbiome markers of inflammation and cancer risk,” Kroger Health Chief Commercial Officer Jim Kirby said in a statement. “Once we understand this, dietary and pharmaceutical interventions can be developed to influence the bacteria in our guts and potentially alter one’s risk for developing cancer—reinforcing our fundamental belief that food is medicine.”

A Kroger spokesperson did not provide additional details, such as the company’s expansion plans and its financial investment, and did not make executives available for interviews.

Kroger’s involvement follows a growing trend among retailers hoping to scale clinical trial operations. CVS Health launched its clinical trials division in 2021, and Walgreens followed suit in mid-2022. Later in 2022, Walmart announced its intent to start recruiting clinical trial participants, placing it in competition with the two pharmacy chains.

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