FAQs: Clinical Studies at Ethos
What is the difference between an “Ethos Discovery de novo study” and an “Ethos Veterinary Health contract research study”?
There are two avenues that Ethos takes to conduct clinical trials within its hospitals.
- The first is through the non-profit incubator for scientific innovation, Ethos Discovery. With this approach we design and execute studies ourselves and will use the data obtained to develop new therapies and diagnostics.
- The second avenue is contract research studies. For these studies Ethos is asked by external organizations to assist them in their research. In this scenario it is the external organization that designs the study and processes the data, Ethos helps to enroll patients into the study through our national network of emergency and specialty hospitals.
How is research different from regular medical care?
Research is different in that it looks at the use of diagnostic and treatment options that are not considered part of routine medical care. This may include the administration of novel experimental medications or the use of new diagnostic devices that are being evaluated as possible future routine medical care. It can also include the collecting of extra patient samples (i.e. blood, urine, tissue) to be used for research studies at a later date.
How can I find out more, stay informed, or take part in a research study?
Clinical studies are posted on our hospital websites, and are regularly updated with their current status. Please select the hospital nearest to you and click on “For your Pet” or “For Veterinary Teams” in the menu bar and go to the clinical studies page.
Each study features a contact form at the bottom of the page. Please use this form to see whether your pet is eligible for enrollment and get more information on the studies that we’re currently conducting within Ethos.
Our doctors are aware of the studies that are currently being conducted within Ethos and are always on the look out for eligible patients. If you are interested in enrolling your pet in a study, or curious to learn more, speak to your veterinarian during your next appointment.
As a pet owner, what is expected of me if I enroll my pet in a clinical study?
Each study is set up according to its needs. We encourage you to read the guidelines associated with the study you are interested in.
- Compensation for enrolling your pet in a study will differ for each study. Usually it consists of the diagnostics and treatments that are part of the study being provided to you at no cost. Additionally, there could be other discounts applied to the care of your pet.
- In some cases, the owner may be asked to give medications to their pet, alter their diet or exercise plans. This will vary for each study. Some studies will require the administration of certain medications or other treatments. Others might require questionnaires to be filled out by owners before or after the study.
- The duration of each research study will vary depending on the study design. Simple studies generally require a one-time interaction with a patient with no need for follow up. More comprehensive studies will follow patients over a longer period of time, such as several months or up to one year.
- The data collected from your pet will be used to improve the care that we provide to future patients. It will be used to show that a new treatment works with good efficacy or that a novel diagnostic test is accurate. Data collected from patients will be used in scientific publications and presentations in order to inform other veterinarians around the world about the research that we’ve done so they can adopt similar treatments and diagnostics in their practices.
- All patient data is anonymized and is not shared with any third parties.
Will this cause pain to my pet?
There are very few studies being conducted within Ethos that have the potential to cause pain to your pet.
If a study has the potential to result in pain there are pain management protocols in place to make sure that your pet does not actually experience this pain (i.e. pain medication, sedation). The potential to experience pain in a study is always communicated to the owner prior to them consenting to enroll their pet.
What if I decide to participate in a research study but change my mind at a later date?
All studies provide the option to unenroll your pet at any time. There are no negative consequences should you elect to have them removed from a study.
Do you do any testing on pets without their owners’ knowledge?
No. All requirements for participation in a research study are clearly explained to the owner prior to their pet being enrolled in a study.
There are no extraneous tests or treatments performed on patients without prior discussion and approval from the owner.
Will participation benefit my pet or just other pets?
Both. Many studies within Ethos will allow for your pet to receive a treatment or have a diagnostic procedure performed that would not otherwise be available to them. There will also be many studies in which the study does not immediately benefit your pet, but the data collected will benefit other pets in the future. The potential benefits to your pet will always be discussed by your doctor prior to you electing to enroll your pet in a study.
Is there a cost to me?
No. Our studies do not require any payment from the owner for their pet to be involved. The majority of our studies instead compensate owners for many of the costs associated with a study. Certain studies can also pay out incentives to owners, which can be used to cover other medical care that their pet may receive.
How safe are clinical trials?
In general, we conduct research that is safe and has very little potential of negatively impacting your pet. That said, there will occasionally be a study looking at new treatment options (i.e. drugs) that have the potential to result in undesired side effects. Potential complications associated with involvement in a study are always thoroughly communicated with an owner prior to enrolling their pet in a study and it is the owner’s decision on whether their pet is enrolled based on this information.
How does veterinary research benefit humans?
Ethos is committed to improving the care of both veterinary and human patients. The data that we generate though our clinical work will be provided to organizations that are conducting similar research in the human medical field. This will allow for our successful research studies to then be pursued in humans with the potential that will be able to benefit many people with similar conditions that affect animals.
How do you decide in what areas of research to focus?
Our clinicians help identify areas of unmet diagnostic and therapeutic needs in veterinary medicine. Unmet needs are defined as areas of medical care in which a diagnostic test or treatment option could have the potential to improve a patient’s outcome, but no such innovation currently exists. Ethos is looking to fill these unmet needs by developing new diagnostic tests and treatment options with the goal of improving patient outcomes for both veterinary and human patients.
Why take part in a clinical study?
By enrolling your pet in a research study, you are commiting to help us improve the way that we care for our patients in the future. There will be some studies that will allow your pet to receive treatments that otherwise might not be available to them outside of a research study.
The data that is generated from your pet’s participation in a study will possibly benefit other pets and humans with similar ailments around the world.
Do I have to take part in a clinical study?
No, there is no requirement for your pet to participate in a research study. No pet will be enrolled into a study without first obtaining consent from the owner.
Participating in a research study is a choice and has no bearing on the care they receive while being treated as a patient. All pets will still receive the appropriate medical care whether or not they are enrolled in a study.
What is a placebo?
A placebo is a treatment that is provided to a patient with the understanding that it won’t convey any therapeutic benefit to the patient. This is often given instead of providing the actual drug being investigated by a study as a way to compare the efficacy of the study drug to an inactive drug in a controlled environment.
The pet owner is usually not aware of whether the patient has been given the study drug or a placebo. Many of the Ethos clinical trials do not use placebos, however there are some studies where this is needed. Owners are always informed about the potential for their pet to receive a placebo prior to them enrolling in a study, though they will not be informed of whether or not their pet is in the placebo group.
Who conducts the research studies?
Each study is designed and managed by a study monitor. The studies are conducted by the doctors in each of the Ethos hospitals across the country.
Where do clinical studies take place?
The majority of our research studies occur in our hospitals around the country. The same doctors that are caring for your pet have been trained in our clinical trials and will be managing your pet’s participation in the study.
Why does research matter?
Research is what allows for the development of new diagnostic tests and treatment options for patients. These new developments have the potential to improve both how we diagnose diseases and how we treat them. These improvements will then ultimately lead to improved patient outcomes and survival rates, especially for diseases where there are currently limited diagnostic and treatment options available.