How do we get the treatments we have today? How do they go from an idea to a patient’s bedside? While there are many steps along the way, one of the most important is the clinical trial phase, said Lora Black, R.N., Sanford Health director of clinical research, who answers those and other questions about them.
Sometimes called a clinical study, a clinical trial looks for new ways to prevent, detect and treat disease. This is the fastest and safest way to find new treatments and improve the health of everyone.
Watch video: What are clinical trials?
For example, chemotherapy is now the standard treatment for cancer, but before it could become the mainstay of treatment, it was a clinical trial. Today’s clinical trial will be tomorrow’s “gold standard” of care.
What are we looking for?
While clinical trials are often associated with the testing of new medicines or devices, they are also used to examine how certain lifestyle changes may help prevent disease. There are also diagnostic and screening studies designed to find better ways to detect disease. Additionally, a clinical trial can be used to examine the quality of life of patients to explore ways to improve their comfort.
Clinical trials are used in almost every area of medicine. For example, at Sanford Health we have more than 300 clinical trials in 15 specialties including cancer, diabetes, women’s health, heart and vascular, infectious disease, orthopedics and genetics.
Who’s in a clinical trial?
People enroll in clinical trials for a number of reasons. These studies often provide access to promising new treatments that might make all the difference in their care. Participants may also help researchers and physicians discover more about their specific disease, contributing to finding answers, improving the quality of life for everyone with that disease, and potentially discovering a new way to treat disease.
Everyone who signs up for a clinical trial is treated with respect. A primary responsibility of the study staff is to focus on the safety of the participant. In fact, clinical trials are overseen by an Institutional Review Board or ethics board, as well as other committees that are meant to protect the safety and care of participants involved in the clinical trial. This may include the Federal Drug Administration (FDA).
And if at any point a participant wants to leave the clinical trial, they can do so without giving up access to other treatment.
How do I find a clinical trial?
While some people think they need to travel for the latest clinical trials, many are actually offered locally. Always check with your physician about your clinical trial options, as there might be open studies for you close to home. You can also check Sanford Health’s website to find clinical trials offered near you.
More stories on clinical trials
- Physician doing clinical trials in smaller, rural setting
- Clinical trials and cancer care near home: Podcast
- Research America honors Denny Sanford for contributions
Posted In Research