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Clinical trials are research studies that test treatments in people to see if they are safe and effective. There are four phases of a clinical trial that vary based on the purpose and size of the group that is receiving the treatment. In general, early clinical trials focus on establishing the appropriate dose that is safe, tolerated in the body, and produces a positive response.
Later stage clinical trials generally test the established dose in large groups of people to determine if more than just a few people will benefit from the treatment and to identify any adverse side effects. Extension trials assess the long-term safety and efficacy of a treatment, and include people from earlier clinical trials who sign on to continue treatment. Each clinical trial is different depending on factors such as the type of treatment, whom the treatment is intended for, what the treatment is trying to achieve, and how treatment success is measured.
People who are interested in participating in a clinical trial are encouraged to speak with their healthcare team to determine if they are eligible for a study and to ensure that participation will not hinder their current treatment regimen.
In addition to clinical trials investigating medications, there are other MS-related studies taking place across the country that are actively seeking participants. The MS Society of Canada’s Research Portal promotes non-pharmaceutical funded clinical trials and research studies that are recruiting people with MS. Researchers from Canadian institutions and facilities may apply to have their research study posted on the Research Portal to assist with study recruitment. Once an application is approved, the study is shared on msresearch.ca. The MS Society does not accept applications from market researchers (i.e. those seeking information about people affected by MS to learn about their health behaviours and practices, as well as their preferences towards specific MS medications).