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Upstate celebrates International Clinical Trials Day

The go-to medicines, procedures and therapies of today haven’t always been standard treatment. At some point, they were tested – possibly through a clinical trial, which helped make life-saving methods of care become standard practice around the world.

Clinical trials “move science forward,” according to Colleen Dillenbeck, a research regulatory specialist at the Upstate Cancer Center who is helping coordinate Upstate’s first-ever celebration of clinic trials May 17 and 18. “What we’re doing today in clinical trials is going to be the standard of care tomorrow. You’re helping to get those treatments approved so that anyone can have access to them.”

Representatives from the Cancer Center, Orthopedics, Radiology, Neurology, the Clinical Research Unit and Global Health will be available to answer questions about clinical trials for patients and staff at tables on the second floor of the main hospital lobby. Those who visit the table will also be entered to win a Fitbit Charge 2.

International Clinical Trials Day is May 20 but Upstate wants to celebrate during the week to expose as many people as possible to the important work of clinical trials. And Upstate has much to celebrate as it facilitates clinical trials for men, women and children in hundreds of areas including Parkinson’s disease, stroke, HIV, Zika virus, cancers and more. Upstate currently has 241 active recruiting studies, Dillenbeck said.

Every patient at the Cancer Center, for instance, is screened to see if he or she may be a good candidate for a clinical trial. Doctors then offer participation as an option in his or her treatment plan. Non-patient participants may seek out a clinical trial by visiting www.upstate.edu/clinicaltrials.

One ongoing and unique clinical trial happening now at Upstate is seeking a vaccine for dengue fever. Upstate’s Center for Global Health has partnered with the United States Department of Defense to study volunteers during a six-month period. And while dengue fever is studied around the world, the dengue clinical trial at Upstate is the only one if its kind in the world, said Global Health Clinical Research Associate Michelle Klick. Dengue is transmitted by mosquitos and is most common in the tropics and subtropics, however cases have been reported in the southern United States. The World Health Organization estimates there are 390 million dengue infections per year. Its symptoms are flu-like and it can be dangerous for young children, the elderly and anyone with a compromised immune system, also like the flu.

Participants in Upstate’s dengue fever clinical trial must be in top health. Participants in this clinical trial are compensated for their time, but some people want to participate as they know diseases like dengue fever are problematic around the world and they want to help, Klick said.

“We do get people who are medical students, and other sciency-people who are interested in what the process is like,” Klick said. “They like the idea of furthering the science.”

Visit www.upstate.edu/clinicaltrials to view a list of ongoing studies. Anyone interested in participating in a clinical trial should contact the Clinical Trials Office at 315-464-5476 as Klick says they keep a participant database for future studies.

Caption: There are 241 active recruiting clinical trials currently at Upstate. Helping to facilitate clinical trials at the Cancer Center in particular are, from left, Donna Williams, project administrative officer of clinical trials; Erin Bingham, clinical research associate; and Colleen Dillenbeck, research regulatory specialist.

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