Clinical trials are medical research studies that involve people. They may involve patients, healthy participants, or both.

Clinical trials aim to test new treatments or procedures and answer the following questions:

  • Is it safe?
  • Does it work better than the current standard treatment or procedure?
  • Does it have side-effects?
  • What is the best dose to give?
  • Does it have an impact on quality of life?

Clinical trials are divided into four main stages or phases.


On average, it takes at least ten years for a new medicine to complete the journey from initial discovery to reaching patients, with clinical trials alone taking six to seven years on average. The average cost to research and develop each successful drug is estimated to be £1.75 billion ($2.6 billion).

How can I hear more?

Listen to Will West, the CEO of CellCentric, talk with our very own, Ben Munro-Davies, Sky News producer and Trustee of Prostate Cancer Research, on clinical trials, epigenetics and more!

Joining a trial

If you are interested in joining a clinical trial, the best person to speak to is your doctor or nurse.  They will be able to discuss any trials that may be suitable for you to join. If appropriate, they will also be able to contact a doctor involved in the trial and refer you.

You can also find details of current clinical trials via Cancer Research UK’s clinical trial database or the Be Part of Research database.