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After a new treatment has been carefully studied in the laboratory, it's then studied in human subjects. The four phases to clinical research are:
Each phase involves a greater number of human subjects, and the new treatment is thoroughly evaluated before it progresses to the next phase. The FDA uses this information when they consider approving the drug for general use.
Numerous national research trials (phase 2, 3 and 4) are being conducted locally. Participating in a clinical trial gives patients access to treatment that may not otherwise be available. It also gives them a chance to help others by contributing to research.