- Clinical trials are essential to the development, effectiveness and safety of new interventions for the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions.
- The MS Australia Clinical Trials Network was established to encourage high-quality clinical MS research in Australia and to increase awareness of clinical trials and research studies for people with MS.
- The studies listed on the website cover a wide range of potential avenues for participation, ranging from surveys that can be done at home to trialling new treatments.
What are clinical trials?
Clinical trials are usually the final steps before new medical interventions are introduced to the clinic. They can cover a broad range of interventions, including new diagnostic tests, new medications, psychological treatments, or new medical devices.
Clinical trials are research studies used to determine if new interventions and treatments are safe and effective, including determining if they are more effective than current standard treatment options.
Clinical trials can also provide hope and new opportunities for people who may have exhausted current treatments and medications.
For an intervention or treatment to be considered for a clinical trial, an immense amount of pre-clinical work must be done.
This includes two stages of research:
- Fundamental laboratory research to help generate new ideas, principles, and theories, which may not be immediately used but forms the basis of progress and development.
- Building on fundamental scientific research to drive findings towards the clinic, for example, through laboratory models (translational research).
Clinical trials, particularly pharmaceutical or drug treatments, are undertaken in carefully monitored and regulated phases.
Often each phase of the clinical trial has a specific population to recruit. Whether it be people at a particular stage of a particular disease, age, sex or the types of treatment they have previously undergone.
The early phases of clinical trials may also include healthy people to assess initial drug safety.
Typically, researchers initially enrol a small number of participants into what is called a pilot study. The pilot study determines the feasibility of a larger trial and helps develop the methods the trial will use.
The next stage is to recruit larger numbers, and after that, conduct comparative studies on a larger scale to determine the final outcome.
There are four phases of a clinical trial:
The MS Australia Clinical Trials Network
MS Australia hosts the website MS Australia Clinical Trials Network, which lists clinical trials and research studies in MS in Australia and New Zealand that people with MS can independently seek out and participate in.
This network was established to encourage high-quality clinical MS research in Australia and to increase awareness of clinical trials and research studies for people with MS.
The MS Australia Clinical Trials Network website lists a variety of clinical trials and research studies, some of which can be completed at home.
- A trial to measure the effects of magnetic brain stimulation on MS.
- Trials of new medications called BTK inhibitors, for non-relapsing secondary progressive MS and primary progressive MS. These studies are currently in phase 3, where the effectiveness is being measured, and side effects are being monitored in a large group of people.
- A study investigating the effects of walking to music in people with neurological health conditions.
- A study to assess the effectiveness of a brief mindfulness-based procedure in alleviating pain and associated distress.
- A study assessing lower limb strength and walking ability in individuals with MS.
These are only a small selection of studies listed on the MS Australia Clinical Trials Network website. Despite the varying nature, they are all designed to deliver evidence on which to base future decisions about interventions and treatments.
There are multiple benefits of participating in these clinical trials and research studies – it can provide people with early access to treatments, help develop better interventions and treatments for the future, and lead to a deeper understanding of MS.
Visit the MS Australia Clinical Trials Network website and become involved in a study suitable for you.