Miganush Stepanians,  PhD, President and CEO of PROMETRIKA, a clinical research organization (CRO), discusses study designs used in rare disease clinical trials and the common struggles researchers face when designing and conducting these trials. Generally, the gold standard for regulatory approval remains the same – a randomized controlled, clinical trial – and that means studies using smaller patient populations have many challenges. 

 

 

As Dr. Stepanians states, the primary hurdle for them is severely reduced sample sizes. This is tied to an increased heterogeneity in these samples, which is another concern. At the same time, due to the reduced availability of participants, exclusion criteria often cannot be strict enough to reduce this heterogeneity. Other major concerns include a relative lack of knowledge about rare diseases and a lack of accessibility to rare disease clinical trials due to reduced study locations.