Clinical Trials Can Help Improve Your Life, Lives of Others

Heart Health News

Assisting in clinical trials can help find new and improved ways to treat, prevent, diagnose and understand human disease, according to the National Institutes of HealthOff Site Icon  (NIH).

The search for better treatment is ongoing, and there are thousands of clinical studies in progress all the time. ClinicalTrials.govOff Site Icon  is an online searchable database from the NIH that has current lists of more than 180,000 clinical trials registered in all 50 states and in 187 countries.

Why Participate in a Clinical Trial?

Healthy volunteers mainly sign up for clinical trials to help others, according to the NIH. Participating in these trials might even save someone’s life.

People who have an illness or disease being studied by a clinical trial have the chance not only to help others but also to help themselves. These benefits, according to the NIH, include:

  • Hope that new treatments will become available to prolong the life of someone affected with the condition
  • Receiving additional healthcare and monitoring from the clinical team conducting the trial
  • Receiving the newest treatment

If you are thinking about participating in a clinical trial, it’s important to have a health assessment by your primary care physician and to thoroughly investigate the study in advance.

What Does a Clinical Trial Involve?

A clinical trial is useful in more than developing new medication. According to the Food and Drug AdministrationOff Site Icon (FDA), the studies can involve a medical device, gene therapy, vaccine or blood product. 

These potential treatments are tested on human volunteers to determine whether they should be approved for widespread use.

Each clinical trial follows strict rules and is designed to answer specific research questions, according to the FDA. The trial plan identifies what studies will be done, by whom and why. 

A clinical trial team includes doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals who first decide whether a person is healthy enough to participate in the trial, then to monitor the person’s progress in the study, according to the FDA.

The FDA lists the phases that are included in a clinical trial:

  • Phase 1 – Determines dosing, how the treatment is metabolized and excreted (if applicable), and side effects in 20 to 80 volunteers
  • Phase 2 – Increases volunteers to between 100 and 300 participants with the disease or condition the product is being tested to treat. Researchers determine benefits, and if the study should continue
  • Phase 3 – Increases the number of participants to between 1,000 and 3,000 people with the disease, and compares the product’s effect to standard treatment
  • Phase 4 – Might be needed to conduct an additional study of the benefits and side effects, or to study the treatment in a different group of people

For more information about research and clinical trials, talk with your doctor or visit to find a physician. 

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