Moves in Medicine: Lung clinical trials offer cutting-edge care

NORTH PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Pushing medicine forward takes constant research. And that can't be done without the thousands of patients who volunteer for clinical trials.

Every day, people newly diagnosed with serious diseases begin searching for their best care.

Dr. Jonathan Galli, a lung specialist at Temple Health, says clinical trials show a hospital won't settle for the status quo.

"We're always looking for new treatments, new options to help people live longer, healthier lives," says Dr. Galli.

Clinical trials are carefully designed and controlled studies, comparing a new test or treatment to the standard approach.

"To try to minimize risks while maximizing scientific discovery," Dr. Galli notes.

And the Food & Drug Administration won't approve a new drug or procedure unless it is equal to or better than current drugs.

A hospital's ethics board has to OK the trial, and will monitor it throughout.

"You get very close care," notes Dr. Galli.

As a research nurse coordinator, Carla Grabianowski follows patients from the very beginning.

"We'll look at a patient's condition, we'll look at the trials we have or are upcoming, and we'll give them information," says Grabianowksi.

And she welcomes any question!

"How many times do I have to come here? What's involved in each visit? How long am I going to be here? How long is this study? Will I get reimbursed for any of my travel or my time? Is this going to be billed to my insurance company? What protections do you have?" she notes.

Grabianowski says suggestions to improve studies are also welcome.

And patients can change their minds.

"Every patient has the right even after signing the consent to withdraw from the study," she says.

At any given time, Temple's Lung Center may have 20 or 30 studies underway.

And many treatments it studied, such as lung coils and valves for emphysema, are now on the market.

A current study looks at deadening nerves to ease breathing.

Dr. Galli says there's another benefit to joining clinical trials.

If the drug is approved, patients can often get it before the general public.
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