For the longest time, women, and especially young women, haven been underrepresented in clinical research studies . The reasons for that are diverse, with the most important reason being the protection of women’s fertility. Another reason is, that the changing hormonal levels in women (or ovulating trial participants) can make interpretation of research results more complicated and might make it necessary to include more participants into a trial.
It is nowadays recommended by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), that women and men are included in clinical trials based on the prevalence of the sexes for the disease that is studied. Yet, in clinical research studies of some diseases, and also certain cancer types (e.g., thyroid and colon cancer), male participants are still often overrepresented . If women are not studied as thoroughly in medical research as men, this has serious consequences for their health: symptoms are not interpreted correctly and side effects as well as treatment effects of medications and procedures are not as well known for women as for men.
Today, on international women’s day, it is good to remember how far we have come, but also, what still needs to happen to achieve true equality between the sexes in medical research and treatment. With the DECIDER project, we make a significant contribution to understanding high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSC), a disease that only affects women (or people with ovaries). With our work in the project, we help to understand the mechanisms behind this complex and deadly disease and predict therapy resistance at an earlier stage. Our most important goal is to give HGSC patients better and more personalised treatment options beyond the standard of care. The DECIDER team is proud to contribute to a better understanding of women’s health.
Happy International Women’s Day!