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clinical study

Celebrating Our Nation’s Birth and What It Means for All of Us

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Happy Fourth of July! It’s the perfect time to fire up the grill, go watch some fireworks, and pay tribute to the vision of all who founded the United States of America. The Fourth of July also stands as a reminder of the many new opportunities that our nation and its people continue to pursue. One of the most exciting is NIH’s All of Us Research Program, which is on the way to enrolling 1 million or more Americans from all walks of life to create a resource that will accelerate biomedical breakthroughs and transform medicine.

What exactly do I mean by “transform?” Today, most medical care is “one-size-fits-all,” not tailored to the unique needs of each individual. In order to change that situation and realize the full promise of precision medicine, researchers need a lot more information about individual differences in lifestyle, environment, and biology. To help move precision medicine research forward, our nation needs people like you to come together through the All of Us program to share information about your health, habits, and what it’s like where you live. All of your information will be protected by clear privacy and security principles.

All of Us welcomes people from across our diverse land. Enrollment in the research program is open to all, and anyone over the age of 18 who is living in the United States can join. Since full enrollment began in May, three of every four volunteers have come from groups traditionally underrepresented in biomedical research. These include people from a multitude of races and ethnicities, as well as folks with disabilities and those who live in remote or rural communities.

So, as you celebrate the birth of the United States this Independence Day, I ask you also to look ahead to our nation’s future and what you can do to make it brighter. One way you can do that is to consider joining me and thousands of other Americans who’ve already signed up for All of Us. Together, we can build a resource that will revolutionize medicine for generations to come. Thanks, and have a safe and glorious Fourth of July!

Links:

Join All of Us

All of Us (NIH)

Video: What is All of Us?

Video: All of Us: Importance of Diversity

Video: All of Us Launch

I Handed Over My Genetic Data to the NIH. Here’s Why You Should, Too (STAT)

NIH Support: NIH Office of the Director


New ‘Liquid Biopsy’ Shows Early Promise in Detecting Cancer

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Liquid Biopsy Schematic

Caption: Liquid biopsy. Tumor cells shed protein and DNA into bloodstream for laboratory analysis and early cancer detection.

Early detection usually offers the best chance to beat cancer. Unfortunately, many tumors aren’t caught until they’ve grown relatively large and spread to other parts of the body. That’s why researchers have worked so tirelessly to develop new and more effective ways of screening for cancer as early as possible. One innovative approach, called “liquid biopsy,” screens for specific molecules that tumors release into the bloodstream.

Recently, an NIH-funded research team reported some encouraging results using a “universal” liquid biopsy called CancerSEEK [1]. By analyzing samples of a person’s blood for eight proteins and segments of 16 genes, CancerSEEK was able to detect most cases of eight different kinds of cancer, including some highly lethal forms—such as pancreatic, ovarian, and liver—that currently lack screening tests.

In a study of 1,005 people known to have one of eight early-stage tumor types, CancerSEEK detected the cancer in blood about 70 percent of the time, which is among the best performances to date for a blood test. Importantly, when CancerSEEK was performed on 812 healthy people without cancer, the test rarely delivered a false-positive result. The test can also be run relatively cheaply, at an estimated cost of less than $500.


Malaria Vaccine Shows Promise

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Malaria has confounded biomedical researchers for decades because it’s been impossible so far to develop a vaccine that offers a high level of protection. But, thanks to a different approach to vaccine design and delivery, there’s hope that we may have finally turned the corner in the fight against this mosquito-borne health threat.


Clinical Studies in Your Own Backyard

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Map of the U.S. indicating number of active clinical trials by state

Map of clinical trials in the U.S. as of Feb. 7, 2013
Source: ClinicalTrials.gov

NIH conducts clinical research studies for many diseases and conditions, including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, allergy and infectious diseases, and neurological disorders. What’s more, this work is being carried out in every state of the nation, as you can see from this interactive map showing clinical studies supported by NIH and others.

Before you start exploring this map, let’s take a moment to review the basics. A clinical study involves research using human volunteers that is intended to add to medical knowledge. One common type of clinical study, called a clinical research trial, looks at the safety and effectiveness of new ways to prevent, detect, or treat diseases. Treatments might be new drugs or new combinations of drugs, new surgical procedures or devices, or new ways to use existing treatments.

If you’re interested in taking part in a clinical study, a terrific place to start is ClinicalTrials.gov, which is a service of NIH. This searchable database lists more than 139,000 federally and privately funded clinical studies in the United States, as well as around the world. For each study, the database provides information on the purpose of the research, who may participate, where the study is being conducted, and who to call or e-mail for more details. To help you in your quest, we’ve pulled together some handy search tips, along with some real-life stories from both volunteers and researchers.

Finally, please keep in mind that ClinicalTrials.gov is just a starting point. Any information that you find there should be used conjunction with advice from your doctor or another health care professional.