The province has launched a new Clinical Trials Alberta website in an initiative to attract more medical studies.
While the development of a new drug or treatment usually starts in a laboratory, the next step is often a clinical trial involving volunteers. Studies can be done to test treatments, discover more about disease prevention and diagnosis, or learn about how an illness affects a person’s life by testing a new diabetes monitoring app on volunteers.
Tammy Mah-Fraser, executive director of health platforms at provincial crown corporation and economic development agency Alberta Innovates, said the effort will bring pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies together with academics, government, the healthcare system and trial participants to help them navigate existing resources.
“Oftentimes to get research up and going, it takes multiple groups involved in it, and that’s where we can come in and we can connect people to…whatever it needs in order for a company or study to be successful,” she said.
Ontario and British Columbia already have similar promotional organizations. In 2020, Alberta ranked third in total active clinical trials among the provinces, behind Ontario and Quebec.
The University of Calgary and the University of Alberta both ranked second and third, respectively, behind the University of British Columbia for active clinical trials.
Mah-Fraser said Alberta has already built up the research infrastructure and investigators, but the website is a way to announce that the province is open for business.
“Research is quite active here in the province, but I don’t think a lot of people know it’s active in the province. The Clinical Trials Alberta website is really saying that you may not be aware of Alberta – talk to us,” said Mah-Fraser.
She added that sites that are involved in studies have reported seeing better clinical care, beyond any potential benefits of groundbreaking research.
“It shows to individuals that you are doing relevant, high-quality research that actually is making changes in people’s lives,” said Mah-Fraser.