Types of Clinical Trials According to The Method of Treatment
If you thought researchers were only interested in how our body responds to the substances they develop, you’re in for a surprise.
Clinical trials don’t only test drugs. When it comes to dispelling myths, we’d like to specifically address this one. If you’ve searched for a clinical trial on FindMeCure or if you’ve just been involved in a conversation about medical research, you probably already know that there are different treatment options when it comes to trials.
We believe in spreading the knowledge as it empowers people to make educated decisions about their health. Naturally, we decided to make this series of blog posts clearing out all sorts of confusion about clinical trials and answering questions like “What is randomisation in clinical trials?”, “What does blinding mean in trials?”.
In this post we’d like to go through all of the options available under “Select treatment” when you search for a trial on FindMeCure.
As the name suggests, it’s a type of clinical trial looking to assess how changes in behavior affect the course of the disease or the outcome of another treatment such as a drug or a procedure. Under this tag you’ll find a wide variety of trials: those implementing a dietary plan as well as those asking questions of emotional processing and mental health.
What this type of trial suggests is that our behavior in terms of eating habits, physical activity, emotional life, social life and so on, has the power to influence our recovery. Everything we do has an effect on our health and scientists are interested in researching this too.
We’ve already talked extensively about biologics on the blog. To put it in a nutshell, biologics are, well, biological. Unlike synthetic drugs, these treatments are derived from live matter, be it human or animal blood, tissue, living cells or microorganisms, but it’s often done using biotechnology or another up-and-coming method.
Biologics are the rock stars of medical research, so to speak. They show a lot of promise in the treatment of conditions for which no other treatments are available or working. However, most of them are also very, very expensive because of the high development costs, which is an issue that has been bothering the medical world for years.
Compounding refers to the tailoring of a certain treatment (a drug) to the specific needs of the patient. For example, turning a drug from a pill to an injectable substance in order to avoid an ingredient which is non-essential and some patients might be allergic to it, or make it easier to administer to people who for whatever reason cannot swallow a pill.
Sometimes compounding is done for much shallower purposes such as adding a flavour to the drug or making it more ‘pleasant’ in any other way.
These drugs are not FDA-approved, meaning that the FDA has not verified their safety and effectiveness. Which doesn’t necessarily make them unsafe, however, as compounders and medical professionals rely on the drug approval process to guarantee these things.
This type of trial is pretty self-explanatory – it tests certain devices which either relieve pain, improve muscle tonus, or perform any number of activities obstructed or limited by the condition they treat.
For example, this clinical trial for MS is testing a device which performs muscle vibration to assess whether such stimulation improves walking for people with gait abnormality. Other trials, test the effects of brain wave stimulation for some mood disorders. What these trials have in common is the use of a device, be it a permanent fixture or on temporary-access terms.
Developing new methods of diagnosing a condition early on can be crucial, as most diseases are best treated when caught in the early stages. These types of trials are doing just that – looking for new, easier (and more affordable) ways to identify diseases in order to give people the best possible chance at fighting them.
Some conditions, even those that have nothing to do with the digestive system, can be positively influenced by changes in our diet. Scientists want to know how.
Clinical trials assessing the effects of certain dietary supplements are trying to determine how adding or subtracting particular substances from our diets affects our health condition or treatment plan.
And yes, clinical trials test drugs. Drugs are medicine, most often synthetically made. They target certain processes in our bodies trying to reduce or enhance them or otherwise intervene. Drug clinical trials are rarely testing safety, as that has already been proven by the tests run on animals or synthetically grown tissues in a lab.
What they are investigating, however, is whether this particular drug is in any way better than others on the market – is it more effective with fewer side effects, is it more convenient in terms of the way it’s administered, does the effect last longer making the dosages relatively smaller and so on.
Gene therapy can be a way to not only cure but also prevent some diseases if it proves safe and effective in the long run. It can be performed either of the three ways: by replacing a mutated gene which is causing the disease with a healthy copy; by inactivating a mutated gene that’s causing trouble; or by introducing a new disease-fighting gene into the body.
Though there are some ethical and safety concerns related to gene therapy, if handled right it can be a solution to a lot of incurable diseases including some inherited ones which give people unfair health disadvantage.
Procedure clinical trials oftentimes test surgery techniques but it doesn’t have to be the case. A procedure is any intervention done by specialists like physiotherapy or even a massage.
Radiation therapy refers to the type of treatment that aims radiation beams at malignant cells in order to damage their DNA leading to the death of the cells. It’s mostly used for the treatment of some types of cancer when the tumor is localized to one area of the body. It can also be used after surgery or before/during/after chemotherapy to prevent recurrence.
Article by Nelly Katsarova