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Today is International Clinical Trials Day
Clinical Trials Day is celebrated around the world in recognition of the day that James Lind started what is often considered the first randomized clinical trial.
That took place aboard the HMS Salisbury of Britain’s Royal Navy on May 20, 1747, during a time when scurvy is thought to have killed more British seamen than French and Spanish arms.
"This year, it seems an especially appropriate time to celebrate clinical trials, given the pandemic and the role that research will play in its defeat as well as being in the middle of our Mission Week celebrations," says Janie Krull, director of Research for Ascension Via Christi.
Ascension Via Christi's Research Department has conducted clinical trials since 1988.
"We do, or have done, all types of clinical trials in all therapeutic areas with patients ranging in age from newborn to patients in their nineties," says Krull, whose department participates in approximately four dozen trials each year, ranging from Phase I through IV. "These trials help make the latest therapies available in our community much earlier than they otherwise would be."
"To me, the people who volunteer to participate in these clinical trials are among our true heroes," says Krull, such as the recovered COVID-19 patients who donated plasma that is currently being used to treat appropriate patients at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis.
And it all can be traced back to surgeon mate James Lind, a pioneer of naval hygiene who conducted what many refer to as the first clinical trial. Acting on a hunch that scurvy was caused by putrefaction of the body that could be cured through the introduction of acids, Lind recruited a dozen men for his “fair test.”
According to historical documents, "Lind allocated two men to each of six different daily treatments for a period of fourteen days. The six treatments were 1.1 litres of cider; twenty-five millilitres of elixir vitriol (dilute sulphuric acid); 18 millilitres of vinegar three times throughout the day before meals; half a pint of sea water; two oranges and one lemon continued for six days only (when the supply was exhausted); and a medicinal paste made up of garlic, mustard seed, dried radish root and gum myrrh."
Those allocated citrus fruits experienced “the most sudden and good visible effects,” according to Lind’s report on the trial.
Says Krull: "It is unknown what allocation method Lind used or whether the sailors gave the rigorous informed consent required for participation in clinical trials today, but it was a good start worth celebrating that we as researchers continue to build upon today."
For information about clinical trials for which Ascension Via Christi Research is currently enrolling participants, go to viachristi.org/research.