On May 20th, Lightship colleagues, clinical research professionals and patients globally will be celebrating Clinical Trials Day. But first, let’s take a trip back in time to the sea-faring days of the mid-eighteenth century…
You’re a sailor on the HMS Salisbury, part of the fleet of Britain’s Royal Navy that patrols the English channel. You are feeling decidedly unwell. You’re irritable, fatigued and have severe pain in your legs and joints. Most alarmingly, your gums are bleeding and you bruise easily. You and your crewmates are suffering with scurvy, a deficiency of vitamin C, a common ailment at the time. Fortunately, James Lind, the ship’s surgeon mate, born in Edinburgh and a graduate of the University there, is about to do something very leading-edge for the day.
A pioneer of naval hygiene, Lind is going to conduct what is recognized as the first randomized clinical trial on the twentieth of May, 1747.
Twelve crew were recruited by Lind to consume different treatments, including cider, dilute sulphuric acid, vinegar, sea water, citrus fruits or a paste made of garlic, mustard seed, dried radish root and gum myrrh. The sailors who ate oranges and lemons reported “the most sudden and good visible effects”, according to Lind.
In addition to marking this important milestone, Clinical Trials Day is a time to raise awareness about the importance of clinical research.
“At Lightship, we are providing patients with a choice about where they receive their clinical trial,” says David MacMurchy, CEO. “We are focused on creating access to clinical research for all people by removing geographic and logistical burdens. This scales equity and increases diversity of participation.”