Associate Professor Ed Litton: Helping Medicine Improve – People News

In intensive care, doctors do their best to keep you alive and help you get better. Woodside Early Career Scientist of the Year co-winner Ed Litton discovers and proves what “best” really is.

Everything that doctors do in a hospital is tried and tested. Before giving you any medicine or surgery, someone has to prove that it is safe and that it works.

Associate Professor Ed Litton is one of Woodside’s Early Career Scientist of the Year (alongside Dr Arman Siahvashi). He is an intensive care physician at Fiona Stanley Hospital, but also a researcher at UWA. He does this by trying and testing.

“More than 10,000 Western Australians need intensive care every year,” he says. “In my clinical work, I can take care of them, but it’s also nice to do research.

Trial by Fire

“People hold doctors in high regard,” Ed says. “They assume that we always know what’s best, that somehow we just know what treatments work.”

But doctors don’t have a sixth sense for good treatments. Instead, they rely on evidence, like the data Ed and his teams collect.

Ed specializes in clinical trials. These are the grueling, rigorous tests that an experimental treatment must pass before it becomes … just regular treatment.

“Clinical trials are really the best and the only way we can be sure if something we’re doing is really beneficial or not,” he says.

“And you also identify things that are either unnecessary or, worse yet, harmful. This means that you remove these harmful treatments from clinical practice, and those that are identified as beneficial can be incorporated into regular clinical care. “

“The challenge is to be able to communicate and explain the role of research in answering questions where we are uncertain. “

Planning for a pandemic

For most of us, the COVID-19 pandemic was our first real chance to see this process in action. For Ed and his teams, this kicked off a trial that took years to materialize.

“It takes months and months, sometimes years, to develop a clinical trial to the point where you can start recruiting patients,” he says.

“By the time we were ready to recruit swine flu patients, this pandemic was over. We lost the opportunity not only to do better for our patients then, but also to learn for the next time.

But they kept their plans in place, just in case.

“We didn’t know it would be COVID, but we did know that pandemic respiratory infections happen quite frequently. We needed to have an infrastructure and knowledge base out of the box.

Because this trial was already planned, it started to show results quickly.

“This had huge results in terms of identifying this early enough hydroxychloroquine was not beneficial despite all the hype. He identified that corticosteroids were beneficial, and he identified that interleukin-6 antagonists have been beneficial, ”he says.

Ed says that while COVID-19 was a tragedy, it was also an incredible chance to see the treatments move from anecdotes to evidence to the implementation of that evidence.

“Things that would have been considered experimental a year ago are just standard now. “

Science meets medicine

Ed says making research a part of his job helps fuel his creative side.

“In science, you can take your thoughts wherever they can go and challenge yourself to find creative solutions,” he says.

“Maybe that’s not something people think about so much with science – how creative it can be – but I find that in medicine it certainly allows me to. You have to come up with creative solutions, and that’s a fabulous way to fuel this fire.

This article originally appeared on Particle. Read the original article.

About Mark A. Tomlin

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