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The Vital Role of Clinical Trials in Advancing Lupus Treatments

Despite significant progress in understanding lupus, there is no cure. Clinical trials play a crucial role in bridging this gap, offering hope for improved management and outcomes for lupus patients.

Since everyone's journey with lupus is different, there is no one size fits all treatment plan. I went through years of trial and error trying to figure out which medications and dosages worked best for my body. Since there is no cure, many of the medications are used to manage the symptoms. What may work for one may not work on the others.

Behind the scenes

But with more data and research we are one step closer to a cure. This is why clinical trials are so important. Many people don't realize that there is so much behind the scenes that goes on before a drug is ever FDA approved and put out there on the market.

I work in the clinical research field and see firsthand how complicated everything is. On average it could take up to 10 years or more for any drug to be FDA approved so it can reach the general population and be used as standard of care.

Before the drugs are even tested on humans it gets tested on laboratory animals to test feasibility, toxicity and safety.  Once they gather enough data and have enough evidence that this can be work they move onto the next phase and start recruiting patients to test.

The help of the lupus community

Clinical trials need data from real people to understand how well the new medication works. The medicine could be something that will be brand new to the market or something already in existence but geared to another population.

The only way that future treatments can advance is with the help of the lupus community. Many doctors not only treat their patients but also work in the research space. My rheumatologist is a principal investigator on various protocols so I've been approached to participate on some.

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There are also many websites that showcase new clinical trial opportunities. Many of these research studies are funded by hospitals and various pharmaceutical companies who want that cure to be found.

Weighing risks and benefits

It can definitely be scary to participate in a clinical trial. But, a clinical trial goes through a rigorous process to get approved. So, many people will weigh out the risks and benefits before they sign on. Principal investigators will work with the patient and explain the protocol in-depth, and will ensure that they get a patient's consent.

Clinical trials need people who are willing to consent to share their data, medical history, and essentially take that risks of the unknown for something that can lead to a greater good.

Clinical trials offer hope

Clinical trials can be prospective where there is an intervention like a new medication that is being assessed. Many doctors recruit their own patients. Participating in a clinical trial can help further research to see how well a new drug is working or not, which then can lead to new treatment plans. 

Clinical trials can also be retrospective where they are only looking at prior data whether it be blood work, urinalysis, biopsy data or surveys. With the data gathered they can analyze and work backwards and identify trends and investigate certain outcomes.

The ultimate goal of clinical trials is to improve treatment outcomes and quality of life for patients. By evaluating the safety and efficacy of new therapies, clinical trials pave the way for advancements in disease management and one day hopefully a cure. Through collaboration between patients, researchers, and healthcare providers, clinical trials offer hope for improved outcomes and quality of life for individuals living with lupus.

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Treatment results and side effects can vary from person to person. This treatment information is not meant to replace professional medical advice. Talk to your doctor about what to expect before starting and while taking any treatment.
This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Lupus.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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