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Calgary woman's life changed by volunteering for research study

International Clinical Trials Day celebrations set for May 18
May 18, 2017
Sandra Darlington participates in Dr. Ronald Sigal’s diabetes clinical trial, REMIT. The study aims to put Type 2 diabetes into remission by a combination of medication and lifestyle changes over 12 weeks. REMIT is one of the many trial highlighted for International Clinical Trials Day. Photo by Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

Sandra Darlington participates in Dr. Ronald Sigal’s diabetes clinical trial, REMIT. The study aims to put Type 2 diabetes into remission by a combination of medication and lifestyle changes over 12 weeks. REMIT is one of the many trial highlighted for International Clinical Trials Day. Photo by Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

Visiting her family physician for her three-month diabetes checkup, Sandra Darlington expected a routine health check; instead, the consultation that day would change her life. She learned about an innovative clinical trial offering the possibility of eliminating all medication she was taking for Type 2 diabetes. 

Darlington, a 71-year-old retired science teacher, was familiar with the concept of testing new treatments on patients to determine whether they are effective. Intrigued by the chance of improving her condition, she decided to participate in the REMIT (Remission Evaluation of Metabolic Interventions) trial currently underway at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine.

That decision makes Darlington an exception. Many clinical trials struggle to find enough patients and have to extend their study timeline to reach their recruitment goal, while others are forced to close. 

“Without enough patients in a clinical trial, the findings cannot be recognized as conclusive,” says Dr. Ron Sigal, professor in the Department of Medicine, and lead investigator for the REMIT trial in Calgary. “This slows down progress in finding better treatments for patients, increases the cost of research, and may even leave important medical research questions unanswered.” 

Although recruitment for the trial has been going well, there are still more participants needed.

Darlington’s decision to join clinical trial has positive results

After 12 weeks on the trial, Darlington no longer requires diabetes medication. Through diet and exercise she is able to regulate her blood sugar on her own and has lost 30 pounds thanks to the lifestyle support offered by the research team. Now, 20 weeks after becoming a trial participant, Darlington’s blood sugar levels continue to be monitored, which gives her peace of mind and provides the researchers with the data needed to show the effects of the trial intervention.

Darlington is delighted about her success and is thrilled to feel healthier. "I feel great, I have more energy and enjoy not having to take any diabetes medication,” she says. "I’ve recommended my family and friends consider joining a trial.” In fact, she recruited a friend who is experiencing similar success.

As an experienced clinical researcher, Sigal is aware that not all patients achieve personal benefits when they participate in a clinical trial. However, he points out that all trial participants contribute to scientific progress, to the advancement of medicine and overall improvements for patients.

The University of Calgary is one of seven Canadian sites taking part in the REMIT trial, which is led by the Population Health Research Institute, a joint institute of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences. 

Clinical trials underway are looking for participants

To join the REMIT trial, contact Brittany Rossiter at 403-955-8115, or email brittany.rossiter@ucalgary.ca. Learn more about other diabetes trial opportunities.

Researchers are also recruiting for two other trials:

  • ACCESS: The ACCESS study is investigating the impact of providing full coverage for medicine to manage chronic diseases and personalized education to seniors with low incomes. To confirm your eligibility, call 1-844-944-8927 or visit ACCESS trial website for more information.
  • Brain in Motion II: The Brain in Motion II study is investigating the relationship between exercise and cognition in older adults who are at increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Find out how to take part in this trial. 

UCalgary celebrates International Clinical Trials Day May 18

To raise awareness about the importance of clinical research, International Clinical Trials Day is celebrated throughout the world this week to commemorate the first randomized clinical trial in 1747. 

To mark the day, the University of Calgary Clinical, Health Services, and Population Health Research team and the Alberta Strategy for Patient Orientated Research Support Unit are hosting the first Calgary Clinical Trial Market Day on Thursday, May 18, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the atrium of the Heritage Medical Research Building at the University of Calgary Foothills Campus.

Dr. Ronald Sigal is a professor in the departments of medicine, cardiac sciences and community health sciences at the Cumming School of Medicine and a member of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta and the O’Brien Institute. He is also a professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology.