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The Evolution of Clinical Trials

Apr 27, 2022
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Clinical trials make an essential part in medical research and discovery. It is not hard to say that clinical trials are intrinsic to the growth of the modern medical sciences.

Clinical trials make an essential part in medical research and discovery. It is not hard to say that clinical trials are intrinsic to the growth of the modern medical sciences.

However, clinical research, as conducted today is a super-refined version of what it used to be in the past. The evolution has happened over the years, making clinical research more humane and ethical. Dive into this posting to learn more about the evolution of clinical trials into what they are today.

What is Clinical Trial?

Clinical trials are research studies performed on humans to evaluate the efficacy and side effects of a new medical, surgical, or behavioral intervention. The purpose of these studies is to determine the safety of a new drug or procedure on the human body.

The First Clinical Trials

We can trace back the history of clinical research and trials to 562 BC. The world’s first experiment on human subjects, what we call a clinical trial today, is recorded in the “Book of Daniel” in The Bible. A Babylonian king performed this simple experiment on diet and found that vegetarians were better nourished than meat-eaters.

In 1537, the first clinical trial of a novel therapy was accidentally conducted by Ambroise Pare, a famous surgeon. This was done while treating the wounded battlefield soldiers.

James Lind And Scurvy Trial

Physician James Lind conducted the first controlled clinical trial in 1747. Thanks to this study, we got to know that a life-threatening disease like scurvy can be cured by consuming something as simple as citrus fruits.

Tuskegee Study

In 1932, the U.S. Public Health Services (USPHS) initiated the study called “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male” with 600 black men. Informed consent from the participants was not collected and the men were not even informed about the condition for which they were being treated.

The patulinum Trial

In 1943, the Medical Research Council (MRC) UK carried out a comparative trial on the treatment of common cold with Penicillium patulinum. The British office and factory workers suffering from cold were the subjects of this nationwide study.

It was the first double-blind comparative trial in human history. However, the outcome was disappointing as no preventive action of patulin was observed.

The Streptomycin Trial

The first randomized controlled trial of streptomycin in the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis was performed in 1946 by MRC, UK. The streptomycin trial methods have a serious influence on every area of clinical medicine and are referred to as ground-breaking in the healthcare industry.

Evolution of Ethical and Regulatory Framework

The ethical guidelines on clinical trials involving subjects were addressed in the Nuremberg Code of 1947. In 1964, the World Medical Association approved the Helsinki Declaration. It contained a complete set of guidelines and principles related to trials conducted on human subjects for medical research. Since its inception, the declaration has undergone multiple changes and evolved to meet the requirements and sensitivities of the current age.

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