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International Clinical Trials Day – From scurvy to genetic epidemiology, recognizing 270 years of clinical trial research

May 20 is International Clinical Trials Day, a time to pay tribute to clinical researchers for their contributions to health care and medical progress.

Research drives the advancement of health care. Clinical trials are an essential element of that advancement. All treatments and interventions used today are the result of past clinical trials. Evidence-based research is the foundation of modern-day medicine.

James Lind is credited with the first clinical trial recorded in medical science. The year was 1747 and the young Lind was a British Royal Navy surgeon’s mate on board the HMS Salisbury. At the time, thousands of men were experiencing slow, painful deaths caused by scurvy outbreaks during long sea voyages. Scurvy surpassed death by enemy attack to become the leading cause of death for sailors. A proven treatment did not exist even though preventative measures and cures for scurvy were documented as early as the 1620s. Witnessing the effects of scurvy first hand, Lind recruited 12 men to test six previously documented potential treatments. The six groups of two were randomized to six different diets and observed for fourteen days. The results of Lind’s “fair test” showed that those allocated citrus fruits experienced “the most sudden and good visible effects.”

Fast-forward 270 years — clinical trials have evolved into complex, multidisciplinary, multinational research projects, involving thousands of participants, hundreds of thousands of data and impacting the healthcare of millions. Genetic and molecular sample analysis is fast-becoming an integrated part of clinical research, perhaps one day leading to the promise of personalized medicine.

Clinical Trial

Hamilton Health Sciences is a recognized leader in clinical trials research. HHS research programs are committed to investigating research areas that build on existing strengths and align with the strategic direction of our clinical programs. This cohesive approach ensures that research is driven by clinically relevant problems which, if solved, have the potential to improve patient care and preventive strategies for our community and global populations.

Clinical trials would not be possible without patient participation. “Providing the option to participate in a clinical trial benefits not only our patients but also future generations. By conducting and participating in clinical trials, everyone involved — our patients, physicians, and research team — we’re all directly contributing to the advancement of care,” says, medical oncologist, and former head of JCC Cancer Clinical Trials, Dr. Andrew Arnold, “Without clinical trials, we would not move forward with new treatments and interventions in the effort to find cures.”

Patients have mixed feelings about participating in clinical trials. The decision of whether or not to participate in a clinical trial is highly personal. Websites like the Network of Networks’, It Starts With Me and the Juravinski Cancer Centre’s Cancer Trials Hamilton, serve to educate and inform patients and their families about clinical trial options.

To learn more about HHS clinical trials visit research themes.

Video:  JCC clinical trial participant Peggy, shares here view on clinical trials