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Famous Clinical Trials

By Duponte Group

What is a clinical trial and why are they so important? Clinical trials are biomedical and behavior-related studies done on human participants with the goal of answering questions about medical interventions.



These trials help us gather information about vaccines, drugs, dietary choices, and medical devices. There are a few clinical trials that really stand out, ones that have made important strides in the field of medicine. The very first (credited) clinical trial was in 1747. It was done by James Lind, a physician, who observed the mortality rate of sailors due to scurvy.


He selected 12 patients while out at sea on a ship called the Salisbury, all with the same symptoms, and put them in quarantine. He assigned different remedies to groups of patients, things like a quart of cider each day, two spoonfuls of vinegar a day, two oranges and a lemon, or an electuary recommended by a surgeon. Lind found the oranges and lemons to have the most beneficial results. This trial laid the foundation for future clinical trials and improved treatment reccomendations for scurvy.


The first clinical trial to use a placebo was done in 1863 by Austin Flint. Flint treated rhuematic fever patients with a placebic rememdy and compared results with a commonly used treatment at the time. There ended up being no significant difference between the results for placebo patients and standard treatment patients, demonstrating the power of placebo. The Nuremberg Code was developed in 1947. This was the first international guidance for the ethics of medical research involving living human subjects. It highlighted the essentiality of consent among participants and expressed concern about involuntary maltreatment. Clinical trials are incredibly important for the forward momentum of modern medicine. These are just a few examples of how they came to be and what they can do for our health.


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