Clinical Trials Advance Medical Research
Carefully conducted clinical trials are the fastest and safest way to find treatments that work in people and ways to improve health.
Schmalfeldt: A clinical trial (also known as clinical research) is a research study in human volunteers to answer specific health questions. Carefully conducted clinical trials are the fastest and safest way to find treatments that work in people and ways to improve health. Interventional trials determine whether experimental treatments or new ways of using known therapies are safe and effective under controlled environments. Observational trials address health issues in large groups of people or populations in natural settings. Dr. Edgar Miller, a clinical investigator with the National Institute on Aging, talks about the value of clinical trials, not just to the furtherance of medical science, but potentially to the people participating.
Miller: It allows people to have a very good assessment of their disease or risk for disease. By participating in these trials they get a state-of-the-art assessment, they get a full complement of disease characterization by medical experts. And then ultimately what a trial does is try to assess the effect of a therapy on the disease. For most diseases we know pretty well therapies that may affect the disease in a favorable way. But we're always trying to look for new ways to improve treatment.
Schmalfeldt: Choosing to participate in a clinical trial is an important personal decision. But Doctor Miller said there are tangible benefits.
Miller: Participation in clinical trials is very important, not only in terms of an individual who participates in terms of what they get back from it in terms of assessment and better characterization of their disease, perhaps giving them more motivation to control their disease, but also in the broader sense it helps us to make advances in medicine and it's a bit of an altruistic effort by people volunteering. We appreciate it and it's an important part of advancing science to have people participating in clinical trials.
Schmalfeldt: For more information about clinical trials ongoing at the National Institutes of Health, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov. From the National Institutes of Health, I'm Bill Schmalfeldt in Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Bill Schmalfeldt
Sound Bite: Dr. Edgar Miller