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How Do Clinical Trials Work?

June 6, 2019

You’ve probably heard the term “clinical trial” before, but you may not know exactly what it is or if it is an option for you. Clinical research is a type of medical research aimed at helping people who have been diagnosed with incurable or complex diseases.

Clinical trials are a specific form of clinical research with a primary goal of finding cures by discovering and testing new medical treatments.


What is a Clinical Trial?

A clinical trial is a type of study where people volunteer to test new treatments, devices or drugs. These “tests” are often used to determine whether or not a new treatment is safe and/or effective for patients. Carefully administered clinical trials have been known to provide medical treatments that worked for patients when nothing else would.

Clinical trials are extremely important to the advancement of many medical specialties, including the development of new cures for life-threatening cancers. Additionally, newly developed treatments and medicines must go through a clinical trial in order to be approved by the FDA. With technological advancements and increased foundational knowledge in the medical research community, clinical trials are proving to be more efficacious than ever before–specifically with regard to safety and effectiveness in treating various diseases.


How Do Clinical Trials Work?

Clinical trials are completed in various phases, often with early phase clinical trials progressing to later stage trials for further testing and a better understanding of results and possibilities with certain treatment paths. Each phase is used to answer specific questions about the treatment or drug.

Clinical trials allow physicians to obtain a better understanding of treatment options. Staying at the forefront of this research enables us to provide a truly patient-centric practice–offering the best treatment and disease education available. Clinical research gives us options, and providing options gives our patients control during an intensely unpredictable period in their lives.


The Basics of Clinical Trials

If you are considering participating in a clinical trial, it can be helpful to understand the prerequisites and what are the right questions to ask. For example:

  • What is the background of this clinical trial I am considering participating in?
  • What are the eligibility requirements?
  • Why is this particular clinical trial so important?
  • How is this trial expected to work?
  • How long will this clinical trial take?


Who is Able to Participate in a Clinical Trial?

Depending on the trial guidelines, there are clinical trials for almost anyone. There are, however, certain steps have to be taken in order to join the trial. For instance, in order for children to join a study, their parents or legal guardians must grant permission. If the child is old enough, they have the option to decline — despite permission given by the parents.

In cases of clinical trials for medication and treatments, each participant must meet specific criteria to be accepted into the program (often related to qualifiers such as age, general health history, gender and/or stage of the disease).


Why are Clinical Trials Important?

These studies give us insight into what does and does not work in medical treatment. They also provide new, innovative treatment options for patients, providing plans for care that likely have not been available to them before. Through carefully run clinical trials, we are able to offer new treatments that can safely and effectively help people.  


How Long Does Clinical Research Take?

Trials are a fraction of the clinical research that goes into creating a new drug or medical treatment. Before any patient is administered a new drug, it must first be created or discovered, then purified, described and tested in various labs.

There is no set amount of time in which a drug or treatment is tested and approved. It can take up to 10 to 15 years. However, this time span can vary. With improved research capabilities, we’ve seen more novel therapies approved in early-stage clinical trials over the past few years than ever before – all because they are proving so efficacious in patient tests that their advantage is clear.


Horizon Oncology

At Horizon Oncology, we offer access to world-class clinical trials, providing cutting-edge cancer treatment in a community setting. A clinical trial–offered in the right environment, made accessible even to those with limited resources, and administered by a knowledgeable, compassionate team–may be just the solution for which you have been waiting.

Contact us at Horizon Oncology and see if our open clinical trials are the right option for you.