Parkinson's Clinical Trial Companion Navigating Clinical Trials - Page 9

Chapter 1 Clinical Research Basics To get just one new drug from the initial “Aha!” moment in the laboratory into the hands of people with Parkinson’s can take several decades, billions of dollars, and thousands of volunteers, researchers and doctors. Even before a therapy can be tested in people, years of basic and pre-clinical research must prove that it has the potential to work and is safe. And the odds are stacked against therapies making it through this thorough vetting. So, when drugs do “graduate” to being tested in people, it’s reason for cautious celebration. Clinical trials and studies are a final and crucial step on the path to developing better treatments for Parkinson’s. They also are an opportunity for volunteers to step forward. New therapies can move toward approved use only with the participation of people with Parkinson’s. The Michael J. Fox Foundation supports early-stage testing of new therapies and addresses systemic challenges in the drug approval process so that more Parkinson’s drugs can cross the finish line faster. But while financial investment is important to accelerate research, it’s research volunteers who give us the best chances of understanding this disease and finding a cure. In the 200 years since Parkinson’s disease (PD) was initially described, researchers have made significant gains in knowledge of Parkinson’s — recognizing the non-motor symptoms, such as mood and memory problems, that can accompany PD and realizing Parkinson’s genetic connections, for example. These understandings have shifted care and research, and none of this progress would have been possible without clinical trials and volunteers. By participating in clinical research, you give something money can’t buy. Funding and other resources can’t make up for a lack of volunteers — an issue many clinical studies grapple with. Across all research, 85 percent of trials face delays, and 30 percent never even get off the ground. This dramatically slows research progress. You can be an agent of change by taking a more active role in your own health care and contributing to Parkinson’s research. You have the power to propel clinical research toward breakthroughs that help people with Parkinson’s in their everyday lives. You could be the key that unlocks a cure. In this chapter, you’ll learn the basics of clinical trials and studies: how researchers conduct them, who can volunteer, and what their potential risks and benefits are. You’ll also find information on how to connect with trials and studies and talk to your doctor about research, as well as what to consider when deciding if and how to participate. Chapter 1 — Clinical Research Basics 7