Many Central Texans know and love Austin Regional Clinic for its dedication to patients, wide range of specialties and ability to treat a diverse variety of medical needs. Lesser-known, but equally vital, is ARC Clinical Research, a service aimed at making strides in scientific advances with the goal of ensuring and improving the quality of available medicines and devices nationwide.

Austin Regional Clinic was founded in 1980 with three physicians, and has been growing organically since to address patients’ primary and specialty care needs, ranging from the common cold to prenatal care, mental health to sleep disorders and much more. Today, ARC provides care in 33 locations to around 580,000 patients in Central Texas.

Likewise, ARC Clinical Research was founded in 2008 with a focus on rheumatology, studying life-changing medication for rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and other autoimmune diseases. Now, the clinical research program has diversified to cover a wide scope of medical issues with trials focused on solutions ranging from new vaccines to smartphone apps.

“[Austin] is a growing city. It’s an innovation center and we wanted to bring more cutting-edge science to the city,” said Dr. Anas Daghestani, Austin Regional Clinic CEO and President. “We wanted to give our patients access to some of the newer medications, and we know the cost of care is a challenge.”

ARC’s clinical research often involves testing new treatments for common diseases. New medications can be expensive, so enrolling in a clinical trial is a more cost-effective option for those seeking relief.

“Anybody in the community who feels like this is something that makes sense to them, something that has impacted them, [can be] considered for a study,” Dr. Daghestani said.

Currently, ARC is enrolling patients for multiple trials to test new treatments such as a medication to help post-menopausal women suffering from hot flashes, a smart phone app to help reduce fibromyalgia symptoms, a pediatric meningococcal vaccine and a device for rheumatoid arthritis patients.

“We’re doing our part to represent the population in Austin. Typically studies look at a few thousand patients nationally, so we might be enrolling anywhere from 10 to 200 [participants],” Dr. Daghestani said. “Locally, at any point in time, we typically have 15 to 20 studies active and running.”

ARC was one of the sites for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine trial and also participated in the study for ColoGuard, a new FDA-approved at-home way to screen for colon cancer. One of the most exciting trials enrolling now is for a new vaccine for Cytomegalovirus (CMV), a leading cause of birth defects worldwide.

“This is exciting because we have a new vaccine that we’re trying to approve, and it’s something that doesn’t happen very frequently,” Dr. Daghestani said. “CMV is rare, but when it happens, it’s devastating with a mother getting a CMV virus infection during pregnancy and passing it to the newborn, leading to rare but potentially traumatic consequences.”

Patients may also enroll in other trials now, including colonoscopy studies, psoriatic arthritis studies and a pediatric chickenpox vaccine study. Dr. Daghestani said ARC Clinical Research operates with the same level of trust, attention to detail and rigor patients are used to when visiting ARC physicians.

“We’re always looking for medical conditions that our patients are struggling with because there isn’t a clear treatment or the current treatment is not very effective,” Dr. Daghestani said. “The hope is for [ARC Clinical Research] to continue to thrive and grow in the region and meet the needs of our patients.”

ARC Clinical Research’s main location is at ARC Clinical Research William Cannon, but also has locations at ARC Far West Medical Tower, ARC Wilson Parke and ARC Kelly Lane in Pflugerville. Those interested in participating in one of ARC’s studies are encouraged to submit a clinical research interest form.

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