From Clinical Trials to Integrated Research
Clinical trials in medicine are based on research of people with diseases. They usually take place in a hospital or clinic. Clinical trials can help researchers understand several things about medicine and about certain diseases. These may include how to better diagnose a disease, who responds to a certain drug, and whether or not a treatment is safe. Each study aims to build on knowledge in a particular area. The eventual goal of any given clinical trial is to answer specific questions and to find better ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat a disease.
Integrated research expands on clinical trials. Integration means that you combine things together to become a whole, or when you bring people or groups of people together to provide different ideas. With integration, you end up seeing the big picture, not just part of the picture.
Integrated research in medicine involves looking at many factors together in order to have a better understanding of a disease. Some examples include:
- Epidemiology – or the study of where, when, in whom, and how often a disease occurs.
- Genetics – or how a disease relates to our individual cells and genes.
- Ways to prevent a disease from occurring or spreading.
- Science – including how and where diseases appear and how they work.
- Clinical trials on patients with a particular disease.
- Interventions – or ways in which the disease may be treated.
Integrated research involves many people looking at a disease in different ways. By looking at several things together, experts share ideas and teach each other. The goal is to improve treatment and quality of life for patients.
Integrated Research in Mesothelioma
Like other areas of medicine, integrated research in mesothelioma is very important. Research done on how the disease affects patients and how patients respond to treatments works to help doctors better understand the disease. Research in the coming years will look at several integrated factors, such as patient selection, staging, new and improved therapies, and other aspects of care.
Integrated research in mesothelioma is designed to answer many types of questions. These may include:
- Who gets mesothelioma and why?
- What are some of the environmental factors that contribute to mesothelioma?
- How are genes related to the development of mesothelioma?
- Are there biomarkers – specific molecules in the body – that can help identify mesothelioma earlier?
- What agents or operations are effective for treating mesothelioma?
In short, the idea is to build a treatment program involving the knowledge of many different doctors. By doing this, they can take advantage of each other’s knowledge in several areas, not merely their own. By sharing ideas, data, clinical samples, and databases, the goal is to improve research in mesothelioma, and be able to better help patients.
Current Mesothelioma Research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Using the integrated approach, researchers at various institutions, including Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) in Boston, have designed several studies. They hope that, taken together, the results of these studies will increase the knowledge of doctors who are investigating this deadly type of asbestos-triggered cancer. They also hope the studies will improve mesothelioma treatments overall. A few of the areas of study at BWH include:
- Looking for molecular markers in tissue.
- Assessing how fine needle biopsies are effective for diagnosis.
- Reviewing estrogen replacement therapy.
- Observing various surgical and medicinal tools for treatment.
- Looking at quality of life in patients with mesothelioma.
With these and other studies happening at BWH, researchers are aiming to improve knowledge and treatment of mesothelioma, while improving the quality of life for those with the disease. Similar efforts are being made across the country.
Moving Forward with Integrated Research
With integrated research, doctors have the ability to work together to better understand how mesothelioma affects a patient’s body. By working together to look at many aspects of mesothelioma, doctors are then able to see the big picture in mesothelioma. It will help them identify new treatments, such as new medications and procedures. Integrated research not only improves the understanding of mesothelioma; it can also help to put this knowledge into clinical practice. This can ultimately lead to better treatment of patients with mesothelioma.