Clinical trials vital in advancing research

VITAL ROLE: Clinical trials have allowed medical research to make major advances.

VITAL ROLE: Clinical trials have allowed medical research to make major advances.

International Clinical Trials Day is held on May 20 to commemorate the day that James Lind, a Scottish physician, began conducting the first-ever clinical trial into the causes of scurvy.

Serving as a surgeon in the Royal Navy his trial consisted of just 12 men, grouped into pairs and given a variety of dietary supplements from cider to oranges and lemons. 

The trial only lasted six days but in that time there was a noticeable improvement in the group eating the fruit, providing Lind with evidence of the link between citrus fruits and scurvy. Some 270 years on, clinical trials have come a long way.

Kelsey Dobell-Brown, Clinical Trials Manager at the Ingham Institute and South Western Sydney Local Health District, said: “The purpose of a clinical trial is to understand and evaluate new approaches to treatment for a particular disease or condition. Here at the Ingham Institute and across south-west Sydney we are conducting over 300 clinical trials in our three major hospitals, Liverpool, Campbelltown and Bankstown.

“Our clinical trials cover a variety of specialties including, multiple sclerosis, rheumatology, heart and kidney disease. We also conduct clinical trials involving orthopaedic surgery, bowel disease and cancer.’’

Participating in a clinical trial can help find better treatments, therapies and diagnostic tests for future management of a particular disease. They can also provide direct benefits for participants including the opportunity to be given a new intervention that may be better for a specific condition or that has fewer side effects.

Trials can offer participants access to the newest interventions before they are made available to the general public. Participants also receive advice, care and support from trained clinical staff who understand their disease or condition.

Playing an active role in a clinical trial is also valuable for people with rare or difficult-to-treat conditions for which there may be limited evidence about how the condition is best treated or managed.

Dr Ben Smith, cancer research fellow at the Ingham Institute, is looking into how to increase clinical trial participation by cancer patients typically under-represented in trials, such as those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Ingham Institute, Liverpool

  • Meet Kelsey and her team at Liverpool Hospital's main foyer on Saturday, May 22, 10am to 2pm.