With about 20 clinical trials underway for retinal degenerative diseases, and many more ready to launch soon, the buzz about signing up for them has never been louder. When it comes to human studies for potential treatments and cures, everybody wants in.
At the VISIONS 2014 session titled “Clinical Trials: Am I Ready?” Christine Kay, M.D., Shannon Boye, Ph.D., and Jacque Duncan, M.D., reviewed the factors that help determine whether someone will qualify for a clinical trial. A person’s genetic profile, retinal condition, visual ability, age and residence are all key characteristics that clinical researchers consider when selecting participants. The investigators also noted that finding an adequate number of participants for the studies is often challenging.
But Dr. Duncan, the new chairman of the Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board, cautioned that participation in a human study is not a fast track to treatment. “If we knew the therapy was going to be safe and effective, we wouldn’t be doing the trial,” she said during her closing remarks.
However, Dr. Duncan explained, patient participation is essential to gaining regulatory approval for therapies so everyone can get access to them. “People who participate in clinical trials are absolutely critical to pushing the research forward,” she said to an audience of more than 100 attendees. “You are pioneers who are going to help us get to the point where we can make a difference for the future. We can’t move treatments into the clinic without you.”
Considering the rousing applause she received for her insights, there are plenty of FFB member-pioneers ready to blaze the retinal-research trail.
Pictured, above: Drs. Shannon Boye (left) and Jacque Duncan.