CCMS Medicine Winter 2017 - 11
Connecting Chester County
Patients to Clinical Research
BY BRIAN K. ABALUCK, MD
ould we provide a higher level of care if we spoke to our
patients, as a matter of routine, about clinical trials?
Many of us have done some work in clinical research in
college, medical school, or post-graduate training. In training, I
appreciated being able to offer new treatments to patients. On the
other hand, I found IRBs at academic institutions cumbersome,
and I found the rat race to publish uninspiring.
Once I went into private practice, I had no plans to conduct
research. However, many of my colleagues in neurology and sleep
medicine encouraged me to reconsider. Fundamentally, clinical
research allowed them to help patients, expand knowledge, and to
be part of causes larger than themselves. The bureaucratic burdens
that most physicians find unappealing in academics are somewhat
less endemic to clinical research in private practice.
So several months ago, I joined Pearl Clinical Research.
Pearl has served as a site for over 90 trials in the past 15 years
or so. We take pride in providing positive experiences to those
interested or involved in our trials. When patients call Pearl, they
most often speak to Suzy, our director. Suzy may spend 30 or 40
minutes learning about their conditions and understanding their
priorities. The next step for most patients is a screening visit. Upon
screening, we spend several hours interviewing, testing, and getting
to know potential enrollees and caregivers. Patients feel welcome,
and caregivers feel understood. Their experiences reflect our
appreciation for their time and trust.
In meeting patients, we have seen a striking synergy between
the values of Chester County patients and the processes and
purpose of clinical research. Patients want to leave a legacy that
helps others. Their families support this altruism. Patients and
families understand that pharmaceutical companies, whatever their
flaws, help drive science forward. By and large, patients do not
respond to offers to participate in clinical research with cynicism,
but with thankfulness. With their families, they study protocols
and come reliably for appointments.
Some enrollees come through my clinic, but many come
directly from their own providers. Your recommendation to your
patient carries far more influence than any phone call I can make
or ad I can place. Not in Philadelphia, Boston, or Ann Arbor
have I heard patients speak so fondly of their providers, nor have I
worked with providers who know their patients so well and work
so hard on their behalf.
To your patients and you, we are currently offering several
trials. Our current trials focus on patients with memory disorders.
Specifically, several groups of patients may qualify:
1) Patients with mild cognitive impairment or early
2) Patients with Alzheimer's disease of any severity with
Here are the details of the studies:
1) The Eli Lilly Daybreak study, of which we are part, tests a
beta-amyloid secretase (BASE) inhibitor. BASE inhibitors slow
production of amyloid beta and may thus slow Alzheimer's
disease. This is a long-term, phase 3 study. Patients with mild
cognitive impairment or early Alzheimer's disease (mini-mental
status in high teens to mid-twenties) may be eligible for this
2) We are also offering a phase 3 study of cromolyn and
ibuprofen, which together may reduce inflammation associated
with amyloid beta deposition and thus slow Alzheimer's
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