In 2014 I took part in a trial calling for healthy volunteers seeking new ways to tackle lifestyle related health conditions such as Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease and Obesity. I found it fascinating and I learned things about my physiology that you normally wouldn’t have access to. For example my true resting metabolic rate was tested and that was something I was always curious about in terms of managing my weight. The rate wasn’t what I’d fantasised at all, in fact my personal myth was dispelled and a normal metabolic rate was revealed. This was then bad news for the chocolate manufacturers whose sales I was about to curb.
Next I underwent PET scans and that was a bit gruelling because as part of the protocol I had to sit for 3 hours in a chilled room, the idea being to make me uncomfortably cold before the scan. I was nervous about the radiation exposure of the 3 scans too. However the Investigator provided me with information about how many scans can ethically be undertaken as part of research in a given time frame and what are the normal levels of radiation we experience daily in the background of our lives, so again more learning. The cold was quite unpleasant but gave me greater insight into the need to explain very thoroughly the more onerous activities that people may be asked to tackle in a trial and how it might make them feel at the time.
Since I am also involved in collecting data for clinical trials myself this was very useful. Participants I meet remark on the often novel and rigorous ways in which trial data is collected to get a seemingly simple medication or device onto the market. The common theme with research volunteers is usually “anything to help society or other people with this condition” which makes it a lovely field to work in. Without brave volunteers we would not have the advances in health care we enjoy today and for me, working with these new medications in trials, it is like having a crystal ball to see into our potential future.