Illness may be a matter of environment and chance, but effective treatment may be a matter of genetics
Many medical documentaries and advertisements make the same point about life-threatening diseases; they attack indiscriminately. A disease doesn’t care about our ethnicity or gender. It just chooses us, with life-changing consequences. The reality, though, is that while contraction of an illness may be a matter of environment and chance, effective treatment may depend on a number of genetic factors.
If the treatment of a critically ill patient needs to be modified depending on their genetic make-up, should genetic diversity be factored into clinical trials? And how positive an impact could that have on the final treatment results? A new study from the University of Texas and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Centre in Seattle suggests that allowing for diversity in cancer trials could pay handsome dividends.
In one illuminating example a drug used to treat lung cancer showed poor trial results among the global population, but in a sub-group of young Asian women with no history of smoking the results were outstanding. While environmental factors may also have played a part, the trial uncovered a genetic quirk common to the people of this particular region that might otherwise have been overlooked. By accurately reporting results by demographic, crucial answers were found.
Conversis Project Manager Kelvin Lee welcomes any moves to enhance the success of clinical trials, and he sees language as the glue that holds successful trials together;
In clinical trial patient recruitment, languages are the key differentiator but the concepts behind the translations, based on cultural differences and country- specific rules and regulations, all have common ground. When we undertake a clinical trial project we’re not just translating words on a page, we’re doing everything we can to help clients find an effective treatment. It means reaching out to people of different ethnicities and cultures, it means embracing diversity at the beginning of a project so our clients can improve the lives of a diverse range of patients at the end of it.
The results of this new study confirm one of the principles that guides us; that inclusive, accurate and painstaking work across languages, borders and ethnic groups delivers results. Here’s to hard work. Here's to accuracy. Here's to inclusion.