Clinical Trials

MUHC Members: Please note that all the information regarding study submissions, eReviews or clinical trial registration has been relocated to the Portal. If you forgot the login/password to access the RI MUHC intranet, please contact riportal-support [at] muhc [dot] mcgill [dot] ca

The MUHC has over 400 clinical trials currently underway, with approximately 160 new trials starting every year. For a listing of adult or pediatric trials taking place at the MUHC, please follow the links below. If a particular trial is ‘recruiting’ then it is accepting volunteers and you may contact the research coordinator if a phone number or email address is provided. To search for specific trials that are of interest to you, you can use the ‘Refine Search’ function at the top of each list.

McGill University Health Centre, Adult     McGill University Health Centre, Pediatric

If you have any questions, please contact us.

 

Frequently asked questions about clinical trials:

What are clinical trials?

Clinical trials are carefully controlled experiments which test new medical treatments and techniques using volunteers. They are a vital part of medical research because they help scientists and doctors learn how well new treatments or procedures work. There are several different kinds of clinical trials, each designed to answer a specific type of question. These are the most common types of clinical trial:

  • Treatment trials test the safety and effectiveness of new medical treatments.
  • Prevention trials explore ways to prevent certain diseases.
  • Diagnostic trials investigate new methods of diagnosing specific diseases or disorders.
  • Quality-of-life trials investigate ways to make people with a certain disease or medical condition more comfortable.

 

Clinical trials can usually fall into four distinct categories or phases. Each of these phases has a different goal, and is designed to answer a different question.

Phase 1: Phase 1 clinical trials are designed to test the safety of a new drug or medical procedure. They are usually quite small, and may only involve a few dozen people.

Phase 2: Phase 2 clinical trials are designed to further test the safety of the new treatment, and learn if it is effective. They usually involve several hundred people.

Phase 3: Phase 3 clinical trials are intended to confirm whether a new treatment is effective, and to gather information about its side effects. Phase 3 trials may involve 1000 people or more.

Phase 4: Phase 4 clinical trials are usually undertaken after a new drug has been approved for use by health and regulatory agencies. In phase 4, further information is gathered about the drug’s long-term risk and benefits, and the best ways to use it.

Why are clinical trials important?

Clinical trials give scientists and doctors vital information about the safety and effectiveness of new treatments and procedures. A great deal can be learned from laboratory studies and basic science research. Only clinical trials, however, show whether new treatments actually help people. Information gained in these trials allows researchers and doctors to develop new and improved ways to prevent, diagnose and treat diseases.

Can I participate in a clinical trial?

Clinical trials have sets of very well established rules (called protocols) which define who can participate. These protocols usually spell out the exact state of participants’ health, and may specify other conditions, such as age, gender and so on. For instance, a clinical trial of a new treatment for high blood pressure might recruit people over age 50 with mild hypertension. If you meet the conditions laid out in the protocols, then you would be eligible to participate in the trial. Rules for participation in a clinical trial are very strict. There are several reasons for this: for safety reasons researchers must gather very specific information about people with a certain kind of disorder and medical history; they also want to recruit people who are likely to be helped by the new treatment, and who have the lowest possible risk of side effects.

What are the advantages of participating in a clinical trial?

You should not expect any direct advantages from participating in a clinical trial. Your participation gives you an active role in the collection of important information that could lead to progress in medical science.

What are the disadvantages of participating in a clinical trial?

Because the treatments people receive in clinical trials are experimental, they may not be effective, or may cause unpleasant or even dangerous side effects. People in clinical trials must follow their doctors’ instructions very carefully. Participating in a trial may also be time consuming. If you are part of a trial, you may spend more time being examined and treated than a typical patient.

How safe is it to participate in a clinical trial?

Researchers do everything they can to ensure the safety of participants. When designing trials and recruiting volunteers to take part, researchers are guided by strict MUHC ethical guidelines. All studies must also follow a detailed ethical code known as the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans. This code stresses that the dignity, safety and well-being of participants must be the guiding principles of all medical research in Canada.

What should I know before agreeing to take part in a clinical trial?

If you’re trying to decide whether to participate in a clinical trial, you’ll probably want to ask:

  • Why is this trial being done?
  • Who will be participating?
  • How effective is the treatment likely to be?
  • Are there likely to be any side effects or safety issues?
  • What are the chances of receiving a placebo (see glossary)?
  • How long will the trial last?
  • What exactly is expected of participants?
  • Who will be in charge of my medical care?

Can I leave the trial if I change my mind about participating?

Yes. Just as participation in clinical trials is voluntary, withdrawal is also voluntary. Participants can leave clinical trials at any time, and for any reason. However, if you do leave a trial, you should tell your doctor that you have decided to withdraw. You should also explain the reasons for your decision, because this information may be important to the trial results.

How do I find out about clinical trials?

If you are interested in taking part in a clinical trial, start by asking your family doctor for advice. He or she may be able to refer you to a trial being run by a hospital or research centre in your area. The MUHC has over 1000 clinical trials currently underway, with approximately 400 new trials starting every year.