By: Joshua Danker-Dake | Category: Health & Fitness | Issue: June 2009
The Options Health Research staff is currently enrolling participants for a clinical study of GERD. (L to R) Lillian Effinger, Stacy Goodin, Derrick Weber, Charlotte Johnston, Linda Shutz and Alicia Johns.
Options Health Research, located in the Physicians Building just east of Hillcrest Medical Center, conducts clinical research trials for pharmaceutical companies looking to get their new medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They recruit participants and monitor their progress throughout each study. Currently, Options Health Research is testing a treatment for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), more commonly known as acid reflux, dyspepsia and heartburn.
GERD affects up to 40 percent of Americans. GERD is a condition in which the liquid in the stomach, which contains acid and pepsin (necessary for food digestion), is regurgitated into the esophagus. Over time, this liquid inflames and damages the lining of the esophagus, which can cause heartburn and chest pain. Other symptoms of GERD can include a sour taste in the mouth, difficulty swallowing, cough, hoarseness and upset stomach.
Many everyday foods can cause heartburn. Some common triggers include spicy, fried and fatty foods; tomato-based foods such as pizza, salsa and pasta sauce; citrus fruits and juices; chocolate; mint flavorings; alcohol; and caffeinated beverages including coffee and tea. Lifestyle factors including stress, smoking and being overweight can also exacerbate heartburn symptoms.
GERD is a chronic condition. There is no cure, but there are several treatment options for controlling the symptoms and preventing further damage to the esophagus. Antacids neutralize stomach acid and provide fast, short-term relief. H2 blockers like Zantac reduce acid production in the stomach and can help heal esophagus damage. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) like Prilosec turn off some of the acid pumps in the stomach. Many PPIs can relieve heartburn pain and heal damage to the esophagus, and these are generally the most effective treatment for acid reflux disease.
If you suffer from GERD, Options Health Research may be able to help. “If you have GERD, you don’t have insurance, and you need help, participating in our study could be an option for you,” says Options Health Research study coordinator Derrick Weber. “Participants in our study receive care at no cost.”
Candidates for the GERD testing program first go through a screening process. If accepted, they will participate in a four to eight week study. Here, all clinic visits and medications are provided free to participants. The screening process includes lab work and an EGD to check for erosions in the stomach and esophagus. Every participant is monitored by a doctor throughout the study, and everything is done on-site in the Physicians Building.
“We have three areas of GERD study,” says Charlotte Johnston, study coordinator for Options Health Research. “So, based on your screening, you may have more opportunities to participate. And sometimes through the screening you can be diagnosed with a condition other than GERD, one that’s easier to treat. You get a lot of information from the lab work.”
If you’re interested in participating in a GERD study, give Options Health Research a call. You can visit them on the web at www.ohresearch.com.