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Clinical trials have been a staple of diabetes research ever since 1922, when doctors in a Toronto hospital injected a young boy dying from the disease with pancreatic extracts. (The extracts contained the recently discovered hormone, insulin. The boy survived and lived another 13 years.)
In the offing, though, as the sophistication of tools and treatments increases, are islet transplantation, the manipulation of immune system cells, stem cell-derived replacement cells (and even organs), gene therapy and surgical intervention. Some trials involve high-tech machines, such as glucose monitors and insulin pumps.
Side note: Look for nanotechnology to emerge as an experimental treatment in the next few years. Microscopic machines could be programmed to alter or prevent certain autoimmune reactions that destroy or impair pancreatic functions.
Much of what clinical trials test is cutting-edge. While there is no guarantee that an experimental drug or procedure will do what its makers designed it for, trial participants hope to enjoy early benefits from a possibly breakthrough treatment.
Another benefit of participation in a trial is that subjects often receive sophisticated monitoring and advice from some of the best experts in the field of diabetes treatment.
What Does It Take to Participate?
How do you get to participate in a clinical trial?
First, you have to fall into the category that researchers are looking for. For instance,
Where Do You Find a Trial?
Where can you find a clinical trial to join? Fortunately, there are several public websites you can visit to see which trials are seeking participants.
American Diabetes Association
The ADA has a discussion of clinical trials in general and links to other sites where you can find information on current trials.
www.clinicalconnection.com is an easy-to-navigate site. When Diabetes Health tried a nationwide search, we instantly received a list with the topics and locations of 20 studies in:
A service of the National Institutes of Health, Clinical Trials is a registry of federally and privately supported clinical trials now underway in the United States and worldwide. The site gives comprehensive information about a trial's purpose, who may participate, locations and contact information.
Currently, the site only lists studies dealing with type 1. You access the studies by clicking on the “List by Condition” option, then on “Immune System Diseases.”
TODAY is a nationwide study of treatment options for type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents.
One page links to various medical centers nationwide that are conducting studies in this area, including:
TrialNet is an international network of diabetes centers dedicated to the study, prevention and early treatment of type 1.
Go ahead and check out the opportunities. You’ll be helping to advance scientific knowledge and you just might be part of the cure.
Diabetes Health is the essential resource for people living with diabetes- both newly diagnosed and experienced as well as the professionals who care for them. We provide balanced expert news and information on living healthfully with diabetes. Each issue includes cutting-edge editorial coverage of new products, research, treatment options, and meaningful lifestyle issues.