Clinical Research

One day you feel a strange stinging, biting or crawling sensation beneath your skin, which just won't go away. Then fibres begin to protrude from the skin or you may see red or blue lines below the surface of your skin. Eventually sores erupt all over your body, including in places you can't reach such as the middle of your back. You go to the doctor - and - after doing tests to rule out many other similar conditions, he finds that you fit the symptoms of a very rare condition, popularly called "Morgellons". He or she then tells you that this is not a real disease, but rather is a delusional condition. There is nothing physical causing this. It's just something going on in your mind which leads to all these symptoms.

At the 2015 American Urological Association annual meeting in New Orleans, Dr. Jonathan Harper will present the findings of an FDA-registered "first in humans" trial to non-surgically propel and expel kidney stones from the body.

Harper and colleagues in the Department of Urology and Applied Physics Laboratory at the University of Washington have invented a new way to facilitate kidney stone passage or dislodge large obstructing stones, using ultrasound.

 Ultrasound technologies have been successfully used for many years on the International Space Station (ISS), primarily to perform imaging of the astronauts' eyes, bones, and internal organs.

By Marsha Lewis, Inside Science  – The statistics are shocking. Almost half of all Americans live with one or more risk factors for a heart attack.

Now, bioengineers at the Christman Lab at the University of California, San Diego have created a material that could repair and even reverse the damage done by a heart attack.

"A heart attack is a single event where the blood supply is blocked to that downstream tissue," said Karen Christman, a bioengineer at UCSD. When the tissue is deprived of the blood it needs, it becomes damaged.

Scientists have discovered a way to regrow bone tissue using the protein signals produced by stem cells, which improves on older therapies by providing a sustainable source for fresh tissue and reducing the risk of tumor formation that can arise with stem cell transplants.

The authors of the new study say they are the first to extract the necessary bone-producing growth factors from stem cells and to show that these proteins are sufficient to create new bone. The stem cell-based approach was as effective as the current standard treatment in terms of the amount of bone created and could help treat victims who have experienced major trauma to a limb, like soldiers wounded in combat or casualties of a natural disaster. 


Interventional treatments such as surgery provide good functional outcomes and a high cure rate for patients with lower-grade arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) of the brain, according to a new study. These findings contrast with a recent trial reporting better outcomes without surgery or other interventions for AVMs.


After performing thousands of unsuccessful experiments in his attempt to perfect the light bulb, Thomas Edison famously remarked: "I have not failed, not once. I've discovered ten thousand ways that don't work."

Australian leaders of an ongoing pancreatic cancer clinical trial known as the Individualised Molecular Pancreatic Cancer Therapy or 'IMPaCT' trial, can say exactly the same thing as Edison. In conventional terms, the trial has been a failure, because it has been unable to recruit eligible patients to-date, but that may lead to a new paradigm of personalized cancer care for pancreatic cancer and other aggressive cancer types. 


Loss of muscle volume is a common debilitating outcome of traumatic orthopedic injury, resulting in muscle weakness and loss of limb function.  The current best solution is muscle graft but a new therapeutic approach uses small pieces of autologous muscle which can be expanded in a collagen hydrogel and used to regenerate functional muscle at the sight of injury.

A study demonstrating the feasibility of using autologous minced tissue grafts for muscle regeneration shows it would be better for repairing large areas of muscle loss.  


More than 100 drugs have been approved to treat cancer but predicting which ones will help a particular patient hasn't really been possible.

A new device may change that. It is an implantable device, about the size of the grain of rice, and can carry small doses of up to 30 different drugs. After implanting it in a tumor and letting the drugs diffuse into the tissue, researchers can measure how effectively each one kills the patient's cancer cells. Such a device could eliminate much of the guesswork now involved in choosing cancer treatments, says Oliver Jonas, a postdoc at MIT's Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and lead author of the paper in Science Translational Medicine.


Testosterone replacement therapies are controversial in males so extending it to females will likely be even more so. But research involving mice suggests an association between low levels of androgens (which includes testosterone) and atherosclerosis and obesity in females. 


Cholesterol-lowering statins have transformed the treatment of heart disease. But while the decision to use the drugs in patients with a history of heart attacks and strokes is mostly clear-cut, that choice can be a far trickier proposition for the tens of millions of Americans with high cholesterol but no overt disease.

Now a report from preventive cardiologists at Johns Hopkins and elsewhere offers a set of useful tips for physicians to help their patients make the right call.

The report, published March 30 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, combines the experts' collective clinical wisdom with previously published research on the benefits and potential downsides to long-term statin use.