Our Unit Director Talks Clinical Trials with Chatelaine Magazine

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In an interview with the Canadian women's magazine "Chatelaine", Clinical Trials BC's Unit Director - Alison Orth discusses the important role of clinical trials in "finding new ways to detect, diagnose, and treat diseases". 

In order to encourage more people to participate in clinical trials, it is essential for the general public to understand that a treatment or intervention needs to go through different phases of clinical trials before being approved by Health Canada for distribution. In the early stages, clinical research studies usually involve small sizes of participants to test the safety and any side effects of the treatments. 

Once the intervention has demonstrated its safety, researchers then focus on how well it works in different populations with an increasing number of participants, often in multiple countries - Alison Orth

The later phases will involve larger sizes of populations over certain periods of time to evaluate if the treatments work as expected, compare with placebos, and study of any long-term effects over time. The length of a clinical trial can possibly take up to 10 years to complete. 

In light of the speedy development of the COVID-19 vaccines, it is important to note that it was made possible because of the "unprecedented collaboration between scientists, politicians and manufacturers on their combined quest for a safe medical solution to the pandemic problem". The development of COVID-19 vaccines might prompt more streamlined clinical trials in the upcoming years.

It’s essential to understand that the COVID-19 vaccines were developed based on science, technology and preparedness protocols that had been under clinical development and testing for some time before the pandemic - Alison Orth

In addition to helping the public have more awareness on participating in clinical trials, Alison emphasizes how diversity plays an important role in clinical trials and that different communities should have better access and support to participate in clinical trials. 

Historically, clinical trials have lacked demographic diversity in their study populations. People may react differently to the same treatment based on their age, sex, weight, race or ethnicity. It’s essential to include people in trials who closely reflect the population for whom the treatment is intended - Alison Orth

Read the full "Why You Should Volunteer For A Clinical Trial" on Chatelaine: 

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Learn more about clinical trials in Canada:

It Starts With Me is a resource for research teams and patient groups to raise awareness about clinical trials and the benefits of participating in research studies. This was developed by the Network of Networks (N2)'s Clinical Trials Education & Awareness Committee. Learn more about It Starts With Me

How you can volunteer to participate in clinical trials in British Columbia? 

REACH BC is an initiative of BC’s health authorities and partner universities. The program makes it easier for patients and the public to find out what health research is happening in BC, to connect with researchers, and to participate. Learn more about REACH BC

About Clinical Trials BC: 

Clinical Trials BC supports clinical trial investigators, sites, and institutions to ensure a world-class destination for clinical trials. Focusing on infrastructure and capacity building with a collaborative approach, we enable clinical trial excellence in the province of British Columbia. Learn more about us: 

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Clinical Trials BC is part of the Michael Smith Health Research BC organization, along with the BC SUPPORT Unit, Research Ethics BC, and funding programs that attract, develop and retain BC’s health research talent. Michael Smith Health Research BC's purpose is to strengthen BC’s health research system by supporting the people, institutions and activities that generate and use research-based knowledge to promote, restore and maintain the health of British Columbians. Learn more about Health Research BC