Barely a day goes by at the Alberta Cancer Foundation without mention of the words “clinical trial” in some capacity. We are a proud supporter of Alberta’s clinical trials program – one of our flagship investments that continually changes practice around the world.
In this issue of Leap, we focus on these clinical studies and how some of the brightest minds are asking the most innovative questions in order to develop new treatments for those facing cancer. You will read about a sampling of these advancements inside, including a groundbreaking trial that studied heart weakening in cancer patients taking the drug Herceptin (pg. 18). The findings for the new intervention have been excellent and are poised to change the way care is delivered around the world.
As rich as our investment history is with clinical trials in this province — more than $20 million in the last five years alone — we have to go way back to trace the historical evolution of these studies.
The Old Testament recorded the first documented trial at 605 BC, when King Nebuchadnezzar II ordered the children of royal blood to eat only meat and wine for three years. But Daniel requested that he and three other children be allowed to eat legumes and water. A few weeks in, the latter group was noticeably healthier and more vivacious to those relegated to a wine and meat diet. Then, in 1571 a Renaissance surgeon, Ambroise Pare, unknowingly carried out a clinical trial when he suddenly found himself unable to boil oil for open wounds. He concocted his own mixture of egg yolk, turpentine and oil of rose and noticed soldiers given the impromptu treatment had less pain and swelling than those given the standard care.
In 1747 James Lind, considered the originator of the modern-day clinical trial, conducted the first controlled trial on a group of sailors suffering from scurvy. He placed them all on the same diet, but added cider and vinegar to one group and lemon juice to another group. Within six days, the group given the lemon juice recovered.
This long-standing drive and human curiosity has led to the creation of thousands of new treatments in modern medicine, including many that have made life better for Albertans facing cancer. Clinical trials distinguish the handful of discoveries that prove to be true advances in therapy. We are proud to be a partner in such an important program and are excited to see what new innovations will develop next.
Myka Osinchuk, CEO
Alberta Cancer Foundation
Angela Boehm, Chair
Alberta Cancer Foundation