Understanding Clinical Trials: Why They Are Done and What is Learned

Did you know that there are over 100 clinical trials currently enrolling subjects with multiple sclerosis (MS)?

Understanding Clinical TrialsIn the Fall 2009 issue of Multiple Sclerosis Quarterly Report, Gary Cutter, PhD and Brian W. Waldersen, BS from the University of Birmingham, Alabama, discuss the importance of conducting clinical trials in the field of multiple sclerosis (MS).

This article highlights why clinical trials are necessary, what is required to undertake them, and what prospective participants need to know before enrolling.

"We learn of clinical trial results so frequently, it is sometimes easy to develop skepticism about them," the authors admit. "Many technical components are involved with clinical trials. Everyone is searching for better treatments and wants to see positive results. We want better treatments; faster and free of risks. When reading about successes, one needs to understand that this is just one study and without other studies, we cannot be sure that the risks and benefits are reproducible."

Cutter and Waldersen explain the advantages of comparing two groups of patients during a clinical trial, one getting treatment and the other getting another or no treatment (also called a control group) and how this method is central to understanding what interventions work better.

They also provide answers to common questions regarding the clinical trial process, such as:

If you have MS and are interested in learning more about clinical trials, or possibly enrolling in one in the future, you can read the full article at http://www.unitedspinal.org/msscene/2009/08/27/understanding-clinical-trials-why-they-are-done-and-what-is-learned/.

Another helpful resource for patients with MS who are interested in ongoing clinical trails is clincaltrials.gov. This site lists a majority of MS trials and studies taking place nationwide and offers visitors detailed information and criteria for each listing.