Clinical trials are an important aspect of the medical profession. Without clinical trials, new treatments and therapies would not be possible. During a clinical trial, treatments are tested for safety and efficacy. Physicians like Dr. Hanid Audish at Encompass Clinical Research participate in these trials, bringing novel solutions to their patients.
Clinical trials have many exciting success stories, showing how testing can benefit all types of patients. Dr. Audish relates several clinical trial success stories and how they impact the medical profession as a whole.
What is a Clinical Trial?
As opposed to a clinical study, where a group of patients with a certain disease or condition is followed over time, clinical trials focus on bringing new treatments to the medical profession. Phase 1 trials test experimental drugs in a small population. Trial participants are often chosen from healthy patients, though severely ill patients are also included as a last resort.
Phase 2 has a larger group of patients, focusing on whether the treatment is effective. Phase 3 trials test safety and effectiveness among a larger population and also judge which dosages of the drug should be used.
Phase 4 trials continue after the drug is approved by the FDA. The potential for and effects of long-term use are studied.
Drugs for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
Researchers found in 2007 that a certain genetic mutation, EML4-ALK, was responsible for many cases of non-small cell lung cancer. This type of cancer often strikes non-smokers and those with few other risk factors. In phase 1 trials, a patient responded well to the new drug, Crizotinib. This drug helped slow the progression of the disease for a few years. Unfortunately, the drug wears off in efficacy over the years. Fortunately for the patient, another drug came through the clinical trial system which had the potential to treat non-small cell lung cancer patients who were resistant to Crizotinib. The patient was able to achieve remission, beating the disease.
Immunotherapy Drugs for Cancer
Over the past several years, immunotherapy has come to the forefront of cancer treatment. Immunotherapy has far fewer dangerous side effects than radiation and chemotherapy, and sometimes patients experience no noticeable side effects. These drugs have become an important first-line treatment against many different types of cancer.
Immunotherapy drugs include immune checkpoint inhibitors, adoptive cellular therapy, and cancer vaccines. In a cancer vaccine, cells from the patient’s tumor are combined with proteins that attach to cancer cells and proteins which are tailored to the patient’s tumor. These treatments owe their existence to clinical trials. Popularly advertised cancer drugs like Keytruda are immunotherapies.
The Artificial Pancreas
The artificial pancreas has undergone years of clinical testing. Patients with Type 1 diabetes cannot produce their own insulin, and they are often treated with insulin pumps which are effective but require the patient to monitor the doses of insulin they are receiving. The artificial pancreas combines an insulin pump with a constantly operating glucose monitoring system, adjusting the proper dose of insulin at all times of day and night.
This device has the potential to revolutionize care for patients with Type 1 diabetes, from children through adults.
Stem Cell Clinical Trials
The use of stem cells has exciting potential for the world of medicine. Stem cells are a type of cell which can differentiate into many types of cells in the body. They can also reproduce themselves. An example of stem cell successes includes the treatment of children with combined immunotherapy. These children were once kept in plastic bubbles to prevent them from becoming infected with viruses and bacteria. Stem cell therapy for this disease involved taking a child’s blood stem cells and genetically engineering them, returning them to the body. The child in question is considered cured, and she is able to interact normally with her family and peers.
At the Forefront of Medicine
Clinical trials continue to offer novel therapies and treatments for a wide variety of diseases, from cancer to diabetes and immune system deficiencies. Dr. Hanid Audish administers clinical trials at his clinic, Encompass Clinical Research. He is an important part of the medical testing system, and his work has helped many patients achieve better health.