Clinical trials

Clinical trials are often considered to be the ‘gold standard’ for the investigation of new treatments in healthcare. By the time a clinical trial is available for patients to sign u it has been planned meticulously to ensure it is ethical and necessary. The NHS suggests that anyone interested in joining a clinical trial may find out more about what is available by asking their GP or there are many charities which may have some information on this.

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There are lots of benefits to taking part in adaptive phase 1 clinical studies. For example, there is the obvious advantage that you may well be receiving a beneficial treatment for your illness well in advance of other patients with the same disease or condition. As part of the clinical trial patients with often be given much more frequent check ups and advice from the researchers to gather as much information as possible about the effectiveness of the new treatment. You could also find out a lot more about other support groups and resources to help you manage your own health better and you will be more engaged in your own healthcare as a whole. In some cases, a clinical trial may even offer a financial incentive to enrol.

You may want to bear in mind that you probably won’t know if you are actually being given the new drug or treatment. Some trials will use a control group for comparison to the new trial treatment. The people who are allocated to this group may be given an existing treatment for the same purpose or may even be given a placebo – a substance designed to look exactly the same as the real treatment but with no therapeutic effect. This is an extremely important part of the trial still as it allows the investigators to measure the new treatment against this benchmark of a current treatment or no treatment.

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When a participant on a trial is not told which treatment they are being given, this is known as a ‘blind’ clinical trial. This prevents the possibility that simply the knowledge of the treatment given playing a part in how well the patient feels it is working.  Some studies may be ‘double blind’. This is where both the participants and the researchers are not told which treatment each participant is using which adds yet another layer of cover to prevent any human bias to the outcome. Many studies are also randomised. This is where the participants are allocated to a treatment group at random, often using a computer-generated method to irradiate any human error or bias in the process of selecting groups. There is a lot of information about clinical trials at and with the more recent adaptive designs now seen in a lot of clinical trials the results of these studies are often seen sooner into the research.

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