Cross Country Lab-Ratting

I just accepted an invitation to participate in a new clinical research project that studies the effects of a certain oral diabetes drug on people who have severe asthma. The technical name of the study is…..
A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind Pilot Study of Pioglitazone Hydrochloride in Severe, Refractory Asthma

It’s being conducted at the NIH in Bethesda Maryland.
This means that I’ll be traveling between San Francisco and Washington DC every 4 weeks for the next 10 months…. a total distance of 50,000 miles if I complete the entire study. Hey, I’m already an accomplished long distance walker, might as well be a long distance lab rat, right?

Ive participated in lots of asthma studies, but this one is a little different in that not only is the research being funded by the government, the research center itself is owned by the government. What a lot of people may not know, is that the NIH funds almost all of the medical research that is done in this country, including SARP.

I don’t expect to benefit directly from this particular trial, but because research studies like this that focus on refractory asthma are extremely rare, and because its a little easier for me to travel than most with this disease, I feel I have an obligation to help out if I can. My participation in the study might also give me easier access to future studies at the NIH.

The study involves an 8 month clinical trial of a diabetes drug called that Pioglitazone Hydrochloride ,that might also help people with severe asthma. It’s a double blind study, in which the research subjects are given a placebo for 4 months and the actual drug for 4 months. No one knows in what order these are given, including the researchers ( hence the double blind).
The drug carries with it some potentially severe side effects (the most serious being congestive heart failure),so the study volunteers have to be screened and come in for blood work and other lab tests every few weeks.

The government picks up for all study related travel, but I’m not sure how my body is going handle all the flying back and forth.The research coordinator is doing her best to make getting to the facility as easy as possible for me. They’re going to book me only on non-stop flights will have a cab pick me up at the airport, so that I don’t have wait for the shuttle. We’ve also worked out a schedule where I’ll only be away from home 4 days a month and only mid-week. But still, just the stress of traveling in general can have a major effect on my breathing, so the plan right now is just to see how my body handles it and take it one step at a time.

My initial appointment at the NIH is in June. At that time they’ll do a bunch a preliminary tests, including PFT’s, echocardiogram and Dexa scan to make sure I’m healthy enough to proceed with the study.

If you have severe asthma,can travel and are interested in volunteering for this study, here’s the info.

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5 Comments

  1. wheezytux says:

    wonder if they will pay to do research across continents…i cant see them paying for a brit to take part but would love to. although not sure I am classed as having severe asthma anymore (i have not been in hospital for 11 months now…a total record!!!)

    hope your well buddy xxx

    • Stephen says:

      Lol…I think the NIH limits its studies to US citizens. This particular study doesn’t pay you anything anyway.

      Congrats on 11 months jail free. Hey, maybe youre outgrowing your asthma. Wouldnt that be nice :-)

  2. kerri says:

    Hmm, think they'll fly me out to keep you company in your downtime? :P
    [You and I together . . . what a scary thought! :D]

  3. mymusicallungs says:

    I gulped with the thought of the travelling. But then I read the blurb about the study and can see why you fit the picture so well. It sounds incredibly exciting-here's guessing you wont be one of the placebos, unless it's all totally random-the faint chance of finding something that might just help you will be worth all that monthly upheaval.
    Here's to air miles and upgrades! xx

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While it's a little unusual to see a person with a perfect O2 sat of a 100% during a severe exacerbation, its pretty typical to see sats in the 94-97% range. The reason for this, is that asthma is a disease of the airways , not the alveoli where gas exchange takes place. Most asthmatics dont desaturate during the early stages of an attack,unless theres a secondary problem such as pneumonia. You have to be extremely ill with asthma if your sats are low.

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