Clinical trials are planned research investigations in which patients take part. They test new drugs or new combinations of current treatments, or compare different ways of using current treatments. They aim to provide reliable evidence about how effective treatments are and whether they should be made available to patients.
There are different types and phases of clinical trials. Each trial is designed to ask and answer specific questions about the treatment involved – for example, is this treatment safe? Is this treatment effective? Is it better than current treatments?
Clinical trial results are used to help governing bodies decide whether the treatment should be available for use on the NHS. For more information about this process download the Health technology assessment Infosheet.
If you’re a healthcare professional who would like to find out more information on clinical trials, see clinical trials in our research section.
What to consider before you take part in a clinical trial
Your doctor may discuss taking part in a clinical trial with you. Before you decide whether to take part in a trial it’s important you understand what’s involved, so you can make an informed decision.
Here are some of the benefits of taking part:
- Getting access to an effective current treatment or a new treatment that might not otherwise be available
- Being closely monitored by specialist doctors and nurses throughout the trial
- Helping researchers improve the treatment given to patients in the future
Other things to consider before you take part include:
- The new treatment might not be better than the current treatment
- The new treatment might cause unexpected side effects
- The new treatment might not work for every patient (although the same could be said for any treatment)
How to participate in a clinical trial
If you’re interested in taking part in a clinical trial, you should speak to your doctor. Every trial has a list of entry criteria and your doctor will need to check you’re eligible to take part.
Remember, taking part in a clinical trial is entirely voluntary. You should definitely speak to your doctor or nurse if you have any questions before making your decision.
What new treatments are being investigated?
The immune system is made up of specialised cells, tissues and organs which work together to protect the body from foreign organisms and abnormal cells in the body. Immunotherapies are treatments that help the immune system to kill myeloma cells.
The main types of immunotherapies being investigated for the treatment of myeloma include:
- Monoclonal antibody drugs
- Adoptive T cell transfer