Dr. Arvind Chaudhry, Ph.D. and director of Spokane Valley Cancer Center, discusses how clinical research expands our understanding of medical treatments.

Mediaplanet: What role do clinical trials play in medical research?

Arvind Chaudhry: Clinical trials involve the participation of qualified patients to better understand a therapeutic area and, often, a potential treatment method. Sometimes the trial will test the effects of the new drug and compare it to one with no active ingredients, known as a placebo. This clinical research aims to better understand the safety and effectiveness of the potential new treatment.

Clinical research and the participation of qualified subjects are necessary for the approval of new treatments by the FDA. They are vital to the progression of medicine. For example, I’m currently involved in clinical research for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), a type of cancer that starts in the body’s immune system.

MP: Why are trials important in advancing the treatment of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma?

"Only 30 to 40 percent of lymphoma is curable—our goal is to get to 100 percent."

AC: Currently, only 30 to 40 percent of lymphoma is curable. Our goal is to get to 100 percent. We want to cure all lymphoma.

I’ve participated in multiple phases of clinical trials in standard treatment, as well as novel treatments for lymphoma. The only way for subjects to receive new treatments that are promising but not yet approved by the FDA is through clinical trials. Clinical trials help all patients with lymphoma, and they advance our knowledge of the condition and its potential treatment.

MP: What should a person consider before enrolling in a clinical trial?

AC: The decision to participate in a clinical trial is a very personal one. I suggest doing your research to understand the opportunity—who is sponsoring the trial and what is being studied. Discuss the decision with your loved ones. It could be an opportunity to gain access to novel treatments that are not yet available to the public. You’ll also be helping to advance science and contributing to important research that will aid future generations.

There is a clinical research study now enrolling people living with NHL. The goal of this study is to evaluate an investigational drug that inhibits the PI3K pathway, one of the most frequently altered pathways in cancer. This novel investigational treatment approach could provide an alternative treatment option for recurrent NHL and help improve NHL patients’ quality of life.