Clinical trials are research studies that include human participants to test possible new medical treatments before they can be federally approved for use in the general public. The research aims to prevent, treat, control or diagnose a disease or condition, but it must be tested to determine its safety, side effects and effectiveness.
The medical treatments that are being administered to patients today started out in clinical trials. Each treatment being tested has the potential to be tomorrow's standard of care. The research process for a new treatment from the lab to the market can take years and even then, only a small percentage are ever approved as a standard treatment.
A promising new drug or treatment developed in the laboratory must be thoroughly tested, therefore it must undergo several phases before being approved: