Researchers Aim to Double Number of Clinical Trial Patients

The Clinical and Translational Research Institute at UCSD introduced new recruitment plans this past month that aim to double the amount of clinical trial patients within the next few years. 

In the past, UCSD has had trouble finding the right amount of people in order to conduct clinical drug trials. There are two main steps being taken: The first is creating new information systems that will streamline the process of finding and matching patients, and the second step is finding a way to shorten the institute’s Institutional Review Board and the Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory process. This process, which mostly involves paperwork, ensures that a trial is ethical by finding any conflicts of interest. 

CTRI Director Gary S. Firestein told the UCSD Guardian that the new processes, such as cutting down some of the “red tape” involved in processing trials, will help the institute find and retain more clinical trial patients.

“The first [step] is to streamline all the regulatory processes … so that instead of it taking many months to complete, the goal would be to complete them in a month,” Firestein said. “The second would be to develop information systems that allow us to match patients with clinical trials and then allow them to decide to participate so that we don’t have to rely on word of mouth or advertisements to reach them.”

CTRI conducts a variety of clinical drug trials, testing drugs that aim to help cancer patients, Alzheimer’s disease patients, arthritis patients and many more. Because of the variety of trials that take place, there is no way for CTRI personnel to estimate how long it will take for each trial to reach its goal number of patients. 

Mark Wallace, who is the director of CTRI’s clinical research department, explained to the Guardian that is difficult to give a timeline because there are a number of initiatives that the institute is working on.

“It is hard to say how long it will take. We have several initiatives that we are working on in hopes that they will be successful,” Wallace said. “Getting the word out and educating our community on the importance of participating in clinical research should help. Without participation, there will be delays and possible failure to get needed new therapies for our patients.”

According to Firestein there are a lot of problems that clinical trials face when it comes to finding enough patients to continue with a trial. He said that the biggest problem is that eligible patients are not aware of clinical trials that are available to them. Many patients who are aware of the trials are also either satisfied with their current treatment or they are scared of the risks associated with such new, untested drugs.

Despite the issues that CTRI faces with finding clinical trial patients, they are currently able to conduct about 200 trials per year.