"Here. Swallow this pill. No human has ever tried it before, but we think itíll help you."
volunteering to try what no
human has ever tried before
We trust modern medicine, yet itís a brave soul who volunteers to be the first human "guinea pig" shortly after the real guinea pigs or laboratory animals have done their part. The thousands of brave men and women who volunteer to try new medications, surgical procedures and other as-yet-unproven protocols being tested for the first time in humans are participating in what are called clinical trials.
The Health Science Center is a world leader in clinical trials and has produced data from them that has changed the face of stroke treatment, cancer therapy, psychiatric care, dental treatment, diabetes care and other fields.
For example, based on results from one phase of the San Antonio-based Stroke Prevention in Atrial Fibrillation study, hundreds of thousands of patients with an abnormal heart rhythm known as atrial fibrillation, which can lead to stroke, now are being treated with aspirin instead of the anticoagulant warfarin, saving millions of dollars each year and reducing the risk of serious bleeding.
These clinical trials, conducted by the neurology division of the department of medicine, are among many in recent years that have tested snake venom, aspirin, surgery and other options for stroke prevention and reversal.
Other potential stroke victims are benefiting from surgeries called carotid endarterectomies that remove plaque from the carotid artery in the neck. Health Science Center surgeons helped refine the technique and compared surgery alone with a combination of surgery plus aspirin for preventing strokes.
Other clinical trials pioneered by university researchers and dedicated volunteers from University Hospital, the South Texas Veterans Health Care System, the San Antonio State Hospital and other institutions have brought new medications to market for treating AIDS symptoms, breast cancer, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, high blood pressure, skin problems and other maladies.
When 18th century English poet Alexander Pope described a balanced approach to life based on the axiom, "Be not the first by whom the new are tried, nor yet the last to lay the old aside," he wasnít speaking of the pioneers who help make the vital leaps in medical knowledge.
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