63 posts tagged “Research”

It’s Clinical Trials Day, and patients are driving change

Posted May 19th, 2017 by

Today is Clinical Trials Day – celebrated to bring more attention to public health and also to recognize the contribution of the patients and healthcare professionals who make clinical research possible. At PatientsLikeMe, it’s members who are changing the way clinical trials are designed.

Bringing the patient voice to clinical trials has long been part of the PatientsLikeMe mission. Jeremy Gilbert, Vice President, PLM Health and Paul Wicks, Ph.D., Vice President, Innovation, sat down with us last year to talk about the importance of putting patients at the center of drug discovery and development. Check out their Q&A here. Recently, Paul Wicks touched on the purpose behind the latest PatientsLikeMe study on clinical trial design involving the patient perspective, and why organizations need to work on improving their trial process:

“As researchers we know that clinical trials are the best tool we have for identifying new, safe, effective treatments. Patients know this, too, and they’re motivated to take part. But what this research tells us is that actually participating in a trial is not a fun experience; about as much fun as dealing with the worst airlines, banks, or utility companies, and we all know how that can be. This is a call to action to trial designers and sponsors to step up their game and understand that while patients volunteer out of altruism, a clinical trial still has to fit into their daily life and should create as little burden as possible if we want people to enroll and see it through to the end.”

-Paul Wicks

4,718 PatientsLikeMe members took part in the survey, and below is just a snippet of what they had to say. The complete findings of this study have also recently been published – take a look!

How do patients learn about clinical trials?

59% of those who responded said they learned about a trial from their health team, while 24% said they learned via the web. For those who participated in past trials, the first person to suggest they participate was a doctor (43%) or another healthcare provider (19%), and 80% of respondents said they took part in the trial based on their own desire to.

A key takeaway from the study:

Most people are still finding out about trials through their care teams or providers, but when it comes to making a decision to take part, it’s their own desire that motivates them.

Paul Wicks weighed in saying, “We think patients are interested in participating in research in general because of altruism, that they choose to enroll in a particular trial because of its objectives, and that they stay enrolled because of their relationship with trial staff and the level of burden the study incurs on their daily lives.”

What are patients’ impressions of clinical trials?

Of those who responded, 55% were very or extremely satisfied, and 51% would tell other patients about the trial.

Jeremy Gilbert touched on the issue of patients providing feedback following a trial, “We’re starting to see another gap now, which is that companies have no way of soliciting feedback from patients as they participate in a trial, to find out what patients think of real trials. This is a surprise, because given most of us are consumers, we’re used to being able to give feedback about a product or our experience at any time.”

9% of those who answered the survey considered dropping out of their trial — side effects and worsening of overall health after the trial were the main reasons. Following the conclusion of a trial only 38% of patients recall being told about the results.

To find out more about clinical trials and how to get involved, visit the PatientsLikeMe clinical trial finder tool. Find a trial that’s right for you, search by location, phase, intervention type and more.

Thank you to all who participated and shared their experiences to help bring the patient perspective into improving clinical trials.

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The record on research: A chat with Duke’s Dr. Rick Bedlack

Posted March 7th, 2017 by

“This is the fastest enrolling trial in ALS history.”

 

A brightly-colored blazer and the determination to make a difference for ALS patients are two of Dr. Rick Bedlack’s defining characteristics. Dr. Bedlack is a tenured associate professor of Medicine/Neurology at Duke University. He’s also the director of the Duke ALS Clinic that’s partnering with PatientsLikeMe in the current Lunasin study. We recently spoke with him about his background with ALS and the ins and outs of the study.

He saw his first patient with ALS in the late 1990s during his residency at Duke.  He says, “I remember being amazed by the person’s history and neurological exam findings, intrigued by the mysteries of why this was happening, and horrified when I heard my attending physician say ‘you have 2-3 years. There is nothing we can do. Go and get your affairs in order.’” Driving home that day, he decided to build a program for people with ALS that would give them options for living the best possible life with the disease and for participating in research that would stimulate some hope.

Fast forward to March of 2016 when the Lunasin study started. What’s Lunasin and why does it matter to the ALS community? Lunasin is a peptide first extracted from soybeans, which has several potential mechanisms by which it could help a person with ALS. “I first heard about it in a video that my ALSUntangled team was asked to review. In this, a man named Mike McDuff reported that he had ALS, started taking a Lunasin-containing supplement regimen, and unexpectedly experienced dramatic improvements in his speech and swallowing,” says Rick.

He found Mike McDuff and validated his ALS reversal. “One possible explanation for his ALS reversal is that the Lunasin regimen really works,” he says. “Other possible explanations are that Mr. McDuff has an undiagnosed ALS-mimic syndrome, or that his body is somehow naturally ‘resistant’ to this disease. I am testing all these hypotheses in my ALS Reversals program.”

The Lunasin study is a clinical trial of the exact same Lunasin-containing regimen that Mike McDuff took when he experienced his ALS reversal. Because they’re looking for the largest signal ever in an ALS trial, they’ve been able to incorporate some unusual design features into this trial:

  • The inclusion criteria are very broad. There are no cutoffs related to disease duration or breathing function.
  • There are no placebos. All 50 people in the trial will get the real treatments.
  • There are very few in-person visits. Most of the visits are virtual, with participants logging into PatientsLikeMe to enter measurements we teach them to make.
  • The results of the study are available in real time. Anyone can go onto PatientsLikeMe and type in “Lunasin Duke Virtual Trial” and see what participants are saying is happening to them.

“I appreciate the frustration many people with ALS have expressed about the way most of our trials are designed and I wanted to do something different to help them,” says Dr. Bedlack. “It took longer than I expected to get the study open. Constipation is much more common on the Lunasin regimen than I expected, and drop outs have been higher than I hoped thus far.”

The IRB-approved protocol is published so that anyone who wants to try the Lunasin regimen outside the trial can do so using the exact same products and doses, and even record their same outcome measures on PatientsLikeMe.

So, what’s the end game of this study? Dr. Bedlack comments, “I hope to find a way to reverse ALS or at least slow it down. If that does not happen, then I hope I can at least show that this unusual design enrolls more quickly and retains study participants better than a more traditional ALS trial. This is the fastest enrolling trial in ALS history.”

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