Why Are Clinical Trials So Important for Parkinson’s Disease?

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by Wendy Henderson |

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Clinical trials are medical studies where new treatments, therapies and drugs are tested to ensure they are effective and safe for human use. They can also be used to improve diagnosis methods and surgical techniques.

Volunteers are required for clinical trials, and participants are often split into two groups: one group will trial the new drug or treatment and the other will either use their existing treatment or a placebo. Researchers will then study the differences between the two groups.

MORE: Four possible causes of Parkinson’s disease. 

Therapies and drugs will often spend years in pre-clinical research where they will be tested on animals and in-vitro using human cells in Petri dishes.

There are four different types of clinical trials: intervention, where new drugs and therapies are tested before approval; prevention, which aim to stop certain medical conditions from developing; observational, where groups of people and their disease progress are studied without trialing any new treatment; and diagnostic, where new ways of diagnosis and screening diseases are trialed.

Clinical trials can vary greatly in length depending on the type — from weeks to decades. The trials will need to go through three distinct phases: Phase I is usually a small number of people who take a medication or treatment to determine the safety and side effects; Phase II often involves more people and looks at dosage to find out the most effective and safest dosage of a drug or treatment; Phase III is a larger trial where many people will take the treatment or medication to further evaluate its efficacy, safety and side effects.

Why should you participate in a clinical trial? Clinical trials for Parkinson’s disease will help to improve the understanding of the disease, leading to better diagnosis tools, treatment methods and ultimately, a cure. In addition, participating in a clinical trial will allow Parkinson’s disease patients the chance to try a new drug, therapy or treatment before it becomes available to the general public.

Usually, clinical trials are free to participate in and some may offer travel expenses. You can decide to stop participating in the trial at any time. Once the trial has ended, the treatment may cease or patients may be allowed to continue with the treatment as part of an extension program. In addition, those who took the placebo may be offered the treatment following the trial.

MORE: How Parkinson’s disease affects your body.

Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.