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Nebuchadnezzar's Gift to the World

HOW DID CLINICAL TRIALS BEGIN IN THE MIDDLE EAST?

It all started around 635-562BC when the first clinical trial was conducted by the legendary Nebuchadnezzar II, King of Babylonia and one of the greatest kings of the Middle East. Nebuchadnezzar II carried out the first clinical trial when he ordered that a strict diet of meat and wine must be followed for three years. However, four children of royal blood convinced Nebuchadnezzar to allow them to exchange bread and water for the required meal. After only 10 days, those who switched to bread and water appeared healthier, more resplendent and well-nourished than those who stuck to wine and meat. This was the earliest recorded clinical trial, albeit unintentional, documented in the Old Testament.

A GLIMPSE AT THE HISTORY OF CLINICAL TRIALS

There have been other examples of similar experiments throughout history, such as the unintentional clinical trial carried out in 1537 by Renaissance surgeon Ambroise Paré. Paré was a battlefield surgeon who, in the heat of a battle, ran out of the boiling oil used to treat wounds and amputations. Acting fast, he mixed a concoction of rose oil, turpentine and egg yolk, and applied it to his patients for the rest of the day. The day after this unintentional clinical trial, he noticed that the wounds treated with the traditional formula were swollen and extremely painful, while wounds treated with the experimental mixture were not. Paré deduced that the new balm was more effective than the boiling oil usually applied and vowed never to use the standard therapy again.


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Nadia Cheaib is CEO of ClinServ International: a full service CRO operating in France and the Middle East region, with its headquarters located in Beirut. Nadia is a doctor in pharmacy and clinical research. She was head of quality assurance, regulatory affairs and medical writing departments in France, the UK, Germany and Belgium before setting-up ClinServ International. In addition, Nadia is President of the Middle East Clinical Research Association (MECRA), and the official representative of HE MOPH for clinical trials in the MENA region.
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