Test Your Clinical Trial Knowledge
May 18, 2023
Karin Fleming
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In the mid-1700s, Scottish physician-researcher Dr. James Lind encouraged a group of sailors to join an experiment in which they ate oranges and lemons.  Turns out the vitamin C-rich fruit helped prevent the onset of scurvy—an illness caused by severe vitamin C deficiency. The regimen also became part of the world’s first clinical trial.

Centuries later, the clinical trial continues to advance medical knowledge for the treatment and prevention a range of health concerns that impact people around the world.  In recognition of International Clinical Trials Day on May 20, Vitals editors help provide a primer on these invaluable research studies.

What is a clinical trial?
Clinical trials involve groups of individuals in studies of novel or existing drugs, surgical procedures, devices and new ways to improve quality of life. They help researchers and doctors understand the safety and effectiveness of various treatments. They can also help create new solutions to prevent, detect and treat complex, common or rare illnesses.

Why do they matter?
Findings from clinical trials may lead to medical breakthroughs. These studies offer hope to individuals who participate, and to those yet to be diagnosed with illnesses like cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and more.

“Recognizing May 20 as International Clinical Trials Day, I’m proud of the research and clinical trials across Sutter Health that help advance tomorrow’s best medicines in service to our patients and communities,” says Dr. Christopher Woods, chief medical director of clinical trials at Sutter Health, a not-for-profit network in Northern California.

Dr. Woods cites these examples of how clinical trials across Sutter Health are ushering in new treatments for complex illnesses:

  • A new, CLIA-certified diagnostic test for early detection of several cancers (i.e., the PATHFINDER study of Galleri™).
  • New science to advance equitable, evidence-based HIV prevention through a large-scale, international, Phase 3 clinical trial (HPTN-083) of cabotegravir—the first U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drug for long-acting HIV prevention.
  • A new gold standard for transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) treatment for aortic stenosis, shown in the international PARTNER 3 clinical trial to be superior to open-heart surgery.
  • U.S. FDA approval of widely used osteoporosis medications, and San Francisco-Coordinating Center-led studies that first established the value of bone density and risk factors for hip fractures widely used in clinical practice.
  • U.S. FDA approval of a new treatment for a rare form of ALS, tested at Sutter’s CPMC and made possible by findings from the VALOR clinical trial of tofersen.

If I’m interested in participating in a clinical trial, where can I find more information?
Ask your doctor if a clinical trial is right for you. Sutter offers clinical trials potentially suitable for individuals with a wide range of health concerns. Find a list of enrolling studies available at Sutter Health.

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