Transplant Research: Should I Consider Participating?

Mar 21 9:05am | Kristin Eggebraaten | @keggebraaten

Part of Mayo Clinic's commitment to its patients involves conducting medical research that can help people live longer, healthier lives. Clinical trials are research studies that involve volunteer participants. These human studies help physician-scientists better understand, diagnose, treat and prevent diseases and conditions.

Mayo Clinic has clinical trials for each organ group and bone marrow transplant patients. We also partner with government agencies and other medical centers to study new techniques and treatment options for patients. A list of Mayo’s current clinical trials can be found on our web page.

How do I know if a clinical trial might be right for me?

At Mayo Clinic, the needs of the patient come first. This means that your doctor will give you information about open clinical trials that may benefit your current medical situation. You are also able to search for medical trials that may interest you and bring that information to your appointment to discuss with your physician. Participation in clinical trials is always voluntary and your choice to participate or not will never affect your future care with Mayo Clinic.

Before enrolling in a clinical study, you will be given an informed consent document. This form will provide key facts about the study so you can decide if participation is right for you. You can also review and ask questions about this document with a study coordinator who can help you understand all aspects of the study. The study team will also review with you any risks and benefits of each study. You can ask questions at that meeting, and you will also be given contact information to ask questions after you have an opportunity to review the paperwork at home before making your decision. Ultimately, only YOU will know if participation is the right decision for you.

Does clinical research require me to take drugs or does it interfere with my current treatments?

No. Some clinical trials will be observational, which means the researchers just watch for expected or unexpected outcomes. With these observational studies, there are no new treatments given.

Some clinical trials are interventional. This means that researchers are giving patients new tests, treatments, surgical procedures/devices, or drugs to study these new medical treatments.

A clinical study can also be medical records research. This involves researchers using information they collect from participants’ medical records to study large groups of patients. They can see how diseases progress, which treatments work best and find out statistics about patients’ diagnoses and treatment options.

What does Phase 1, 2, 3 and 4 mean when discussing clinical trials?

Clinical trials often have a phase number associated with them. The phase definitions were developed the FDA to categorize clinical studies. You can find the definitions for the phases, as well as other terms you may see associated with clinical trials on the glossary page of clinicaltrials.gov.

Who governs the studies and who protects my interests and safety?

Most hospitals that offer research options have an independent group called an Institutional Review Board. This group is charged with ensuring research is conducted safely and ethically. Members of the group include scientists, doctors, nurses and people from the community who have your best interest in mind when they review each study.

Clinical research is a great way to gain access to new treatment options for your conditions. Participation in research allows you to take advantage of these new treatments early and provides future patients with access to new treatments they may not otherwise have had if those before them didn’t volunteer. We encourage you to reach out to your transplant center and your medical teams to see if clinical research is something that may benefit your situation.

Watch this video for more information about research at Mayo Clinic, or visit our transplant research website.

Have you participated in a clinical trial? Tell us about your experience.

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