Study: Sex Disparity in Clinical Trials May Prevent Females From Getting Optimum Care

Clinical Trials on Male Animals

A new study by the Northwestern University in Chicago suggests that women are not getting optimal medical treatment because most of the clinical research is conducted on male animals.

The study is titled ‘Sex bias exists in basic science and translational surgical research‘ and was published in PubMed Central, which is part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine.  The study was led by Dustin Y.Yoon of Department of Surgery, Northwestern University, Chicago.

Although this is not a shocking revelation, it shows that most researchers think that whatever works for a man, works for a woman. The main reason for these researchers to not use female animals for studies is because taking into account the female hormones changes compositions of medicines in clinical trials.

The study found that there are many differences in traits between male and female mice. Around 234 traits were compared in 14,000 lab mice. There was a difference of 57% in traits like cholesterol level and bone mass and a 10% difference in a trait like the shape of the head.

These differences mean that the medicines and drugs that are optimised for the male animals might be less effective in females. These can also cause harm or side effects in females.

However, there are some researchers who disagree with the study. Peter Rogers at the University of Melbourne in Australia says that the world is changing and that, “I sit on lots of grant review panels, and it’s rare now for research to be funded if the experimental design fails to consider both males and females where relevant.”

In human trials though, things are a bit different. In 1994 in the US, the National Institute of Health required all trials to include women in them. Therefore, the ratio of women in medical trials has increased in the last 50 years to an equal number.

Pic credits: Twitter

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Read more stories by Nikhita Sanotra