This year, 20 May 2017 is International Clinical Trials Day, which aims to help raise awareness of the important role clinical trials play in public health and medical progress. Despite how critical these trials are to finding therapies to cure, prevent and treat type 1 diabetes (T1D), many people have questions about how clinical trials work and whether they are eligible to participate. Here are six important clinical trial facts to know and share.
1. Participation in clinical trials is critical for developing new therapies, but volunteers are lacking.
Thousands of volunteers (with and without T1D) are needed for T1D trials this over the next few years in Australia alone. Sometimes studies can be delayed if not enough people take part.
2. The process for recruiting participants wasn’t always designed with user experience in mind.
JDRF believes that one reason for the participant gap is that information on clinical trials has not been easy to access. There have been databases, but they were not very easy for people with T1D to navigate – so potential participants would rarely find trials in their area. In fact, many people don’t know about clinical trials and therefore, never have the opportunity to take part.
3. Your doctor may not tell you about clinical trials.
Doctors are focused on helping people with the therapies that are available today, so clinical trials may not be top of mind for them. If you’re interested in clinical trials, you might want to look into your options and bring information to your next appointment, so you can discuss a particular trial with your doctor.
4. Trials aren’t one-size-fits-all
Whether you can take part in a trial may depend on your age, sex, other conditions you have, what types of insulin you use, when you were diagnosed and what complications you are experiencing. To know if the trial is a fit for you, you should know what kind of patients researchers are looking for.
5. There’s an easy-to-use tool on the JDRF T1DCRN website that can help match you with a trial.
JDRF’s T1DCRN website is home to a Trial Finder tool that links to all trials currently recruiting in Australia. Trials are listed by state, and you can check the eligibility criteria to see if you might fit the profile for each trial. It is best to contact the trial site directly as there are other criteria you may need to meet before it can be decided if you are eligible.
6. Participating is not always easy, but many feel the payoff is worth it
Participating in clinical trials can be extremely rewarding, but it’s also important to ask questions about the trial protocols and time requirement before signing up, for example: Will you need to travel to a research site? Are you comfortable with having regular blood tests? Many volunteers, however, would say that the time and effort are well worth it, knowing that they have contributed to future T1D therapies:
“My younger son is now 19 and has been in a clinical trial for more than six years,” says Derek Rapp, President and CEO of JDRF International. “He has found that participation was sometimes tedious, but it was also empowering. Every patient will have a different experience, but most seem glad to have the chance to help themselves and others.”
Probably the most important takeaway message from this article is that by taking part in trials, you’ll contribute to making new therapies accessible to others with type 1 diabetes. This could lead to new treatments, prevention strategies or ultimately a cure for more than 120,000 Australians and millions of people worldwide living with type 1 diabetes.
Put your hand up to get involved with clinical research. Sign up to become a T1D Game Changer and we’ll let you know by email when new trials in your area are seeking volunteers. To see trials that are currently recruiting participants, check out Trial Finder.