Choosing to participate in a clinical trial is an important personal decision. It is often necessary to speak with your health care provider beforehand. You may also want to talk to your family members or friends about joining a trial. After you have identified some trial options, the next step is to contact the study research staff and ask questions about specific trials.
A clinical trial is a research study involving human subjects to answer specific questions about vaccines or new therapies, or new ways of using known treatments. Clinical trials (also called medical research and research studies) are used to determine whether new drugs or treatments are both safe and effective. Carefully conducted clinical trials are the fastest and most reliable way to find treatments that work.
Ideas for clinical trials usually come from researchers. Pre-clinical trials typically study the actions of potential treatments in laboratory culture dishes or test tubes – called in vitro studies – or in laboratory animals such as mice, rats or monkeys. Once researchers test new therapies or procedures in the laboratory and get promising results, they begin planning Phase I clinical trials. New treatments are tested on people only after laboratory and animal studies show promising results.
In many Alzheimer’s trials, the person with the disease is primarily a passive bystander, as they may not be able to make decisions about their health. Often, these decisions are made by the person with power of attorney or medical proxies, such as a caregiver, family member, attorney, or friend.
Clinical trials can be found through ClinicalTrials.gov, a registry of federally and privately supported clinical trials. This website is maintained by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) in collaboration with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It provides information about the trial’s purpose, who may participate, locations, and phone numbers for more details. You can search by disease, drug, trial sponsor, or location. For example, enter ‘Alzheimer’s Houston’ into the search box to view all Alzheimer’s clinical trials in Houston, TX.