Clinical research is the study of health and illness in people. It is the way we learn how to prevent, diagnose and treat illness. It describes many different elements of scientific investigation. Simply put, it involves human participants and helps translate basic research (done in labs) into new treatments and information to benefit patients.
Clinical trials and studies
Clinical trials assess new treatments, technologies or methods, whilst other research studies help better understand health and specific conditions.
Some trials and studies split participants into groups, for example giving one group the new treatment and the other the best current treatment or a placebo, which lacks the active ingredient (never given where your health or safety might be compromised).
Comparing the results of these groups allows researchers to determine how effective the new treatment is.
Phases of clinical trials
New treatments progress through four phases, steadily increasing the number of participants to understand whether it is more effective than existing treatment, and should become a new licensed medicine.