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Understanding Preclinical Oncology

by Melissa Bell
4 minutes read

In world of pharmaceuticals, understanding the different procedures is quite important.  Especially in the field of oncology – trials are needed to validate medicines to ensure that they are safe for human use.  Without this vital step, dangerous products could flood the market.

It is good for the developers of the medicines as well.  Having safer medicines is always for the best, after all.  The positive reputation from it alone makes it well worthwhile – not to mention the good press!  That is why learning about these studies is so critical as we continue in this field.

What is Oncology?

Before I can discuss what preclinical oncology is, explaining what is oncology itself is the priority.  In simple terms, it is the part of medical studies that is specialized in studying the treatment and diagnosis of cancer.

Of course, there are several branches of oncology.  This is only natural given the large number of types of cancer that exist and need to be treated.  It is impossible to know about all of them at once, hence the need for specialists.  That is the best way to ensure that equal attention is given to all types of this tragic disease.

In terms of role in hospital or other medical facility, an oncologist is usually specialized in providing care for their patients in a kind and understanding manner, being able to explain the cancer diagnosis to the best of their knowledge, describing the different options for treatment, aiding in the management of side effects from both the disease itself and treatment, and continuing follow ups with their patients.  Clearly, it is a very critical job.

As I mentioned, there are various forms of this field.  The first I will mention are medical oncologists.  They are usually doctors who administer cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or immunotherapy.

Next, there are radiation specialists.  They usually provide treatments for cancer that involve radiation, as the name suggests.  These radiation treatments involve X rays that are intended to kill the cancer cells in a person’s body.

The final branch of oncology that I will discuss today are surgical doctors.  Like you may think based on the name, these doctors attempt to treat cancer by surgically removing the cancerous tumor.  They are usually able to perform biopsies to diagnose it as well.

What are Preclinical studies?


So – now I have explained the first half of the term, so I will move on to the second part of it.  In the field of pharmaceuticals, preclinical studies are critical to understand.  They occur before any human testing can take place, after all.

There are two types of this study.  These are In Vitro and In Vivo.  These are Latin words meaning “within the glass” and “within the living” respectively.  So – In Vitro studies usually involve testing on a laboratory grown culture of bacteria or other cells.  They are not a whole living organism.

In Vivo studies, meanwhile, are often performed on animal models.  Often, these are laboratory rats.  Care is typically taken by researchers to ensure that the animals do not experience grave harm.  Humans are not tested on until the substances are deemed safe for animals.

Clearly, this step is important to the Food and Drug Administration.  Especially in this field, you will want to have some preclinical oncology cro before you move forward with actual clinical trials.  You will need to pass a few tests in this process.

The Food and Drug Administration requires that all organizations performing a preclinical study follow the standard good laboratory processes, known as GLP.  There are simple stipulations in place for a variety of parts of the trials, including written protocols, operating procedures, reporting on the study, conduct during the study, personnel hired, the facility used, and a quality assurance system in place.  It is important to do research and to ensure that your trials will fall within these protocols.

Why Preclinical Studies?

A lot of us might find animal testing distasteful.  I know that it has caused a lot of controversies in the beauty and skin care space, especially.  Cruelty-free brands are often prioritized by many customers.  However, when it comes to testing new medicines, the safety of humans should be prioritized above all.

We want to continue furthering the research of cancer diagnosis, care, and treatments.  To do this safely, animal testing is just an unfortunate reality.  Hopefully, we can focus more on In Vitro studies in the future, but unfortunately, In Vivo tests are also needed to make sure that the cancer patients who undergo clinical trials are

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