There are several trials under way at Seattle Cancer Alliance for autoimmune diseases. Current trials are open for Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, including one being conducted by Dr. Ann Woolfrey who is looking at high-dose immunoablative therapy followed by autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplant (bone-marrow transplant) for the treatment of refractory autoimmune disorders, including juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
The primary goal is to determine whether destroying the immune system followed by rescue with purified autologous stem cells could result in restoring the immune system without the recurrence of the disease. Patients eligible include children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, systemic sclerosis, or dermatomyositis. Learn more about this trial on the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Clinical Trials site.
Patients who participate in clinical trials have the first chance to benefit from treatments that have shown promise in earlier research. They also make an important contribution to medical science by helping doctors learn more about the disease. Although clinical trials may pose some risk, researchers take careful steps to protect people who take part. For more information on clinical trials, a patient should talk to his or her doctor.
Clinical trials come in four phases. In Phase I trials, researchers try to determine safe dose levels. In Phase II trials, which involve a larger group of patients, researchers hope to build on what they learned in the first phase by trying to establish whether cancers will respond to the safe dose levels and to determine what side effects will occur. In Phase III trials, researchers compare the experimental treatment with the standard treatment or a placebo to prove whether the new treatment is truly effective. In Phase IV trials, researchers monitor the effects of long-term usage.