Clinical Trials Day – 20 May 2022


Article category: Events .
May 20, 2022
Pre-Covid, very few people had ever heard of a clinical trial.

Now everyone knows that these are tests conducted to check the safety and effectiveness of a medical intervention.

However very few people understand how and why trials are conducted.
The first recorded “test” on selected people was by a doctor in the British navy- James Lind. He developed the theory that citrus fruits could prevent scurvy; a dreaded disease that is now known to be caused by a vitamin C deficiency. Dr Lind tested various interventions on groups of sailors and the group given citrus fruits showed the best results. These recorded results formed the basis of our strictly controlled clinical trials that ensure maximum safety of our vast array of medical interventions that we have in modern times.

The scepticism that many people have about the Covid vaccine is often attributed to the speed in which the vaccine was developed, but this is not actually the case.

Most of the Covid vaccines utilise a messenger RNA system for the delivery of the vaccine. This mRNA delivers copies of a section of DNA to targeted cells and has been studied by geneticists for many years. Researchers in cancer and genetic forms of many diseases including retinal vision loss have perfected this technique and so it was ready to be adapted to the Covid vaccine.  The vast number of people that received the vaccine also allowed for an escalation of the assessment of adverse events.

So, on Clinical Trials Day 2022 the millions of people who escaped possible severe disease or even death from the Covid 19 virus need to think of Dr James Lind and his lemons who started the process of clinical trials in 1747.  

Claudette Medefindt, Head of Science at Retina South Africa stated that

“Clinical trials to test the effectiveness of promising treatments for genetic retinal blindness are being tested all over the world. In South Africa we are participating in an international trial to test a treatment to slow the progression of Stargardt Disease- an inherited form of central vision loss that affects thousands of South Africans.”

She added

“We were recently unable to participate in a trial to test a mRNA treatment for Usher Syndrome- a genetic disease that causes both loss of hearing and vision. We did not have enough Usher patients with the correct genetic diagnoses to participate. Sadly, we estimate that there are enough South Africans with this severe condition who may have been eligible, but they are not registered with Retina South Africa. We call on all South Africans with genetic retinal vision loss to register with us immediately. Don’t let this happen again. Clinical trials lead to effective and safe treatments.”

South Africans with a retinal disease to contact Retina South Africa at 0860595959 or via our website www.retinasa.org.za. See link: https://www.retinasa.org.za/contact-retinasa/


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