The Avera Research Institute is celebrating it's 10th Anniversary and this week in our Avera Medical Minute we are highlighting some of the ground breaking treatments that have been discovered right here in Sioux Falls by thousands of volunteers. We are going to introduce you to two of them who were suffering terribly from Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Mavis says, "It went through all of my body, every joint. I couldn't walk. I couldn't get out of bed. It as very bad."
Joan says, "My hands and feet are probably the worse, but I have it in my shoulders and it's starting in my elbows."
In 2003 the women met after enrolling in a 5 year clinical trial at the Avera Research Institute to study the effects of Orencia, a new drug to alleviate the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis. During the first year of the study it was blinded which means none of the participants knew if they were getting the drug or a placebo although the women did know.
Mavis says, "After several months into the study, almost 4 months, I noticed I was getting better and I though, well I must be getting the real thing. My poor friend was getting worse."
"Oh yes, I watched her get better and I kept getting worse. I knew. That darn placebo, " Joan laughs.
She was right. After a year of sugar water (placebo) the study was opened so everyone participating could get the Orencia if they wanted. Joan jumped at it.
Joan says, "I feel good. Why not give it a chance. If you aren't getting help through other medicine why not be part of a study? You can stop at any time and it worked for both of us."
Mavis was so debilitated by her Rheumatoid Arthritis she couldn't walk for the first year of the study. She had to use a wheelchair to get in and out of the hospital. She longer uses it, she can walk on her own.
Mavis says, "I feel wonderful. I finally have my life back again. I still have trouble walking, but I can do it and I can get out of bed. I can enjoy my grandchildren, which is wonderful."
Joan says, "Mavis and I have gotten to be good friends and I think she'll agree with me that everyone at the Research Institute have become our friends. Every single one of them."
Long lasting friendships and a treatment for excruciating joint pain, I'd say that's a pretty successful study.
Even thought the study was finished in March of this year, Mavis and Joan go to the Avera Cancer Institute once a month for an infusion of Orencia (the study drug). They says they will probably continue to do so the rest of their lives.
If you are interesting in qualifying to participate in one of the many clinical trials and studies going on right now at the Avera Research Institute check out their website.