As of February 2017, ClinicalTrials.gov, an online database of clinical studies maintained by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), lists 239,290 studies with locations in all 50 states and in 197 countries.
As part of its annual “Research Highlights” series, NIH published a roundup of some of 2016’s biggest clinical breakthroughs, including:
- An experimental vaccine for malaria protected healthy subjects from the infection for over a year and is now moving into larger trials.
- A study examining the effects of mindfulness and meditation demonstrated the practices relieve chronic back pain, presenting an alternative to drugs or surgery.
- Research and monitoring of side effects is ongoing for an experimental pancreatic islet cell transplantation that has successfully treated patients with type I diabetes.
Trials like these are working toward a common goal of improving disease care and patient quality of life by evaluating treatment efficacy. In his article “Clinical Trials: A Winning Step Toward Medical Breakthroughs” Habib N’Konou, Senior Director of Operations for Clinical Trials at UPS Healthcare Logistics, succinctly summarized the objective of research studies: “Modern medicines improve quality of lives. Clinical trials improve the quality of modern medicines.”
Using Technology to Improve Healthcare Research
In the age of digital health evolution, clinical trials are critical in improving new technology and accelerating the deployment of novel devices. Trials present an opportunity for people that are not directly involved in treatment and technology development to shape and advance healthcare. And with more subjects enrolled in studies, clinical trials could answer more questions, faster.
However, according to a Wall Street Journal article published in April of 2016, clinical trials in the US are in need of more subjects. Unfortunately, the challenges in recruiting and enrolling subjects for clinical trials are delaying the development of new medical treatments. But as apps and wearables become more predominant in the clinical trial arena, they are enabling studies that fit more seamlessly into the daily lives of subjects.
For example, Bernadette Mroz has Parkinson’s disease and has enrolled as a subject in several studies at the University of Rochester, including a recent study using BioStampRC Sensors. “I volunteer for the trials in the hope that someone in the future, near or far, will benefit. I will not let this defeat me,” Mroz says of her ongoing participation.
Ray Dorsey, MD, MBA is a University of Rochester neurologist and one of the researchers leading the studies. He believes recent technological advances “will transform the way we care for patients with Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease.”
By participating in clinical trials testing and validating novel healthcare solutions, subjects have the opportunity to be a part of these transformations. To learn how you can improve healthcare research, visit the NIH website to discover why you should participate in clinical trials and to locate clinical trials near you.