What are clinical trials (also known as research studies)?

Medical research studies or clinical trials are designed to test the safety and effectiveness of a treatment, and are an essential step in the process of developing new treatments, or improving existing treatments.

These studies enable researchers to support their theoretical treatment plan with the actual real-life findings in trial results. Many medical treatments that we take for granted today were originally scientific innovations supported through clinical trials and the participation of the general community: asthma sprays, nasal sprays, many drug therapies, CPAP machines etc. Clinical trials are a crucial part of the effort in improving global health.

A trial might test a new drug treatment, or study new uses for an existing drug, new doses or new treatment combinations, or compare existing standard treatments. Before human trials begin there is extensive testing in animals.

These pre-clinical studies are designed to examine the tissue effects of the drug, the way it is processed in the body, and its potential for toxicity. Any trial medication must adhere to strict manufacturing standards for stability and purity. An Ethics Committee checks all details of a trial before it is advertised to the community and monitors its progress.

Volunteer participants are given a detailed medical history (screening) before they are invited onto a trial, the doctors taking into account their medical condition and drug regime so that introducing another trial drug has no adverse interactions. The screening process is an exacting one. Each clinical trial has a specific set of exclusion and inclusion criteria for a volunteer to meet before they are eligible to participate. The screening ensures uniform results and participant safety.
Research studies and clinical trial are dependent on participation and contribution of volunteers. Without volunteers the future of new treatments and medical innovations would be limited. Good research participants are the vital link to good research outcomes.

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