What are clinical trials and why are they important?

If you or a loved one has ALS, you know the frustration around the lack of treatments that can stop or significantly slow the disease. However, you may not be familiar with the thousands of scientists and researchers working hard to discover those treatments.

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The search for new therapies usually begins in the laboratory, where ideas for new treatments are tested in cell cultures or animal models. These steps are critical for showing whether a potential treatment has any merit at all. A treatment that fails in the lab is put aside. A treatment that succeeds in the lab must then be tested in the most important arena of all, the clinical trial.

A clinical trial is the best method to find effective treatments, and, equally important, to eliminate useless or harmful treatments. While costly and often lasting months at a time, clinical trials have proven to be the most reliable and ultimately the fastest way to discover viable treatments.

There are several types of clinical trials, each of which is important to test both the safety and effectiveness of the new treatment, such as a drug for ALS.