Clinical trials are essential to the development of new interventions. For example, without clinical trials, we cannot properly determine whether new medicines developed in the laboratory or by using animal models are effective or safe, or whether a diagnostic test works properly in a clinical setting. This is because computer simulation and animal testing can only tell us so much about how a new treatment might work and are no substitute for testing in a living human body.
Clinical trials also permit testing and monitoring of the effect of an intervention on a large number of people to ensure that any improvement as a result of the intervention occurs for many people and is not just a random effect for a one person.
Most modern medical interventions are a direct result of clinical research. New interventions for most diseases and conditions — including cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure and asthma — have been developed through clinical research. Clinical trials often lead to new interventions becoming available that help people to live longer and to have less pain or disability.
Clinical trials can also help to improve health care services by raising standards of treatment. Doctors and hospital staff involved in clinical trials are continually trained to provide best practice patient care. Australian clinical trials are recognised internationally for including very high quality patient care.
You can access further information from the public stem cell resource A Closer Look at Stem Cells which has a section on clinical trials.
The Australian Government also has resources for learning about clinical trials in the Australian context: www.australianclinicaltrials.gov.au. This website
- enables you to search for clinical trials in Australia,
- to understand how to enroll in a clinical trial
- the questions you should consider.