Clinical research is a component of medical and health research intended to produce knowledge valuable for understanding human disease, preventing and treating illness, and promoting health (Clinical Research, 1999). The clinical research study, also known as a clinical trial, is a key tool for advancing medical knowledge. With medical advancements, we can treat diseases like polio, smallpox, and leprosy; otherwise, they would still affect people around the world. Further, as medical knowledge is continuing advancing due to clinical research, diseases like cancer, HIV, or even Alzheimer’s may cure within our lifetime.
The evolution of clinical research traverses a long and fascinating journey. Let’s take a moment and quiz yourself for clinical research facts!
- Do you know the first reference to a clinical trial?
The first reference to a clinical trial regarding public health is recorded in the “Book of Daniel” in the Bible. This earliest experiment was not conducted by a medical, but by King Nebuchadnezzar. He ordered his people to eat meat and drink wine only; a diet he believed would keep people in healthy condition. But several vegetarians objected to the King’s decree. Nebuchadnezzar allowed these vegetarians to follow a diet of legumes and water for 10 days to compare their health to others. When the experiment ended, the Nebuchadnezzar saw those vegetarians were healthier than the meat-eaters, so he permitted the vegetarians to continue their chosen diet.
- When was the first physician-conducted clinical trial?
The first physician-conducted clinical trial was on May 20th, 1747 by Dr. James Lind. May 20th is also known as the International Clinical Trials Day to celebrate Lind’s controlled trial. On this day, Lind tested scurvy treatments on crew members of the British naval ship Salisbury and found that lemons and oranges were the most effective treatments.
- Are clinical trials become less or more expensive in the last few decades?
Due to technical advancements, clinical trials have become less expensive in the past few decades. According to studies, the cost of developing a successful medicine is $2.6 billion today compared to $179 million in the 1970s.
- When is aspirin first used?
As one of the most researched drugs in the world, aspirin is older than you may think. The earliest use of aspirin goes back to circa 3000 BC. The term “aspirin” was named by Bayer in 1899.
- What was the name of the world’s first genetically engineered drug?
The first genetically engineered drug is named human insulin – Humulin, approved by the FDA in 1982. Humulin was made by inserting human genes responsible for insulin production into E. coli bacteria, and stimulating the bacteria to synthesize insulin.
- True or false: childhood cancer survival rate has risen from the 1950s to recent due to clinical trials.
True. Clinical trials have improved childhood cancer survival. The method of cancer research and treatment is improved by doing clinical trials. As such, the childhood cancer survival rate has risen from less than 10% in the 1950s to over 80% in recent years.
- What is the placebo’s effect?
Placebo is a type of “real” medical treatment that does not contain any active substances meant to affect health. Researchers use placebos during trials to help them understand what affects a new drug or some other conditions. The placebo effect is defined as a phenomenon in which people experience a benefit after the treatment of a placebo.