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A clinical trial is where the breakthroughs of a lab get their real-world test. Researchers need people like you willing to step up and help them learn whether a new drug, device, surgery or other treatment is safe and effective.
The benefits of joining a clinical trial, also called a study, include:
- Access to new treatments before they’re available
- Extra attention from your medical team
- A sense of purpose from knowing you’ve helped others
Some patients travel hundreds or thousands of miles to enroll in clinical trials. AdventHealth patients may have access to clinical trials from the same health system they know and trust.
AdventHealth Research Institute, which has been offering clinical trials to its patients since 1982, now operates more than 550 active studies in 14 research areas.
That means you may have a clinical trial resource right in your neighborhood, whether you have cancer, heart disease or another condition.
If you or a loved one are thinking about a clinical trial, here are three things you should know.
What Is a Clinical Trial?
All medical advancements are built on real-world evidence. Though studies begin in a lab, the gold standard for investigating new drugs, surgery or other treatments is a trial to learn how people respond to them.
The trial often answers two main questions. First, is the treatment safe, with side effects that are acceptable for the illness in question?
Second, does it work? In cases where a treatment already exists, is it more effective than the existing therapy?
Each trial has a list of requirements, called eligibility criteria, that lay out who qualifies for the study. These criteria may include having a certain type of disease or having had (or not had) a specific kind of treatment already.
Joining a clinical trial means your care must follow a specific plan, called a protocol. This helps to ensure your results are due to the new drug or treatment — and not some other part of your care.
This can be seen as a negative, as it may require more tests and visits. But it also means you get extra attention from the research team.
What Kinds of Diseases Are Studied in Clinical Trials?
Many people think about clinical trials as a way to test new treatments for cancer.
And while many trials study cancer treatment — including more than 150 at AdventHealth — they also cover a wide range of illnesses and conditions.
Perhaps you have diabetes or heart disease and are looking for ways to improve your quality of life. A clinical trial may offer a chance for the latest treatments.
Or perhaps you are about to undergo surgery; a trial could offer a new technique. Later in this guide, you’ll find resources to see if you or a loved one might be eligible for a trial.
3. How Can You Learn Which Studies You’re Eligible for?
Talking to your doctor is a great way to learn whether clinical trials may be an option for you. Because information about all clinical trials is posted online, you can search for yourself, too.
You can also search for clinical trials on a larger scale through a government website, www.clinicaltrials.gov. There, you can search thousands of diseases or conditions and look for studies that are accepting patients around the world.
For example, searching for “breast cancer” shows a list of hundreds of studies that are actively recruiting patients. AdventHealth is participating in two at the moment, including one to test tumor DNA and another to test a potential drug.
People are alive today because others volunteered to be part of clinical trials to test promising new treatments. AdventHealth believes clinical trials can not only advance medicine, they can provide another way to boost our patients’ spirits and give them hope.