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Clinical Trials Can Change Lives

Bringing patients, physicians, and researchers together to change the future of medicine.

Research opens the door for new possibilities in patient care. But long before a drug, medical device, treatment, or surgical procedure becomes widely available, it must first be proven safe and effective.

At UPMC, clinical trials are the bridge between research and the future of modern medicine. As one of the nation’s top-ranked health care systems, UPMC annually directs or participates in hundreds of groundbreaking clinical trials in virtually every medical speciality. Some are offered only at UPMC, while others are part of national and even international trials. Each is carefully monitored and measured by expert UPMC physicians who are leaders in their fields.

For patients whose illness has no cure or no longer responds to current treatment, UPMC’s clinical trials offer potentially life-saving medical breakthroughs. Other patients enroll in clinical trials with the hope of finding a better or more cost-effective treatment.

The following three UPMC trials currently are seeking qualified patient volunteers:

Healing Soldiers Disfigured in Battle

A flash of light, the sound of an explosion … and a soldier’s life is forever changed by a traumatic facial injury. But thanks to two government-funded clinical trials, efforts are under way at UPMC to improve the lives of wounded soldiers through facial reconstruction using the person’s own tissue. The study is enrolling military and civilian patients with visible deformities of the head or face following trauma, applying minimally invasive therapy to restore a more normal appearance.

These trials are led by J. Peter Rubin, MD, director of UPMC’s Center for Innovation in Restorative Medicine and an expert in adult stem cells derived from fat. “We’re using stem cell therapy from a patient’s own fat tissue,” explains Dr. Rubin. “By harnessing the body’s own regenerative capabilities, we’re applying new technologies and scientific advancements to restore both form and function in patients.” For more information, call 412-864-2587.

Solutions for Out-of-Control Blood Pressure

Of the 67 million Americans with high blood pressure, more than half fail to keep it under control. Many have difficulty battling the disease despite taking three or more medications, a condition known as treatment-resistant hypertension.

As part of the body’s sympathetic nervous system, our kidneys play an important role in regulating long term blood pressure. In most patients with hypertension, the sympathetic nervous system is overactive, thereby increasing blood pressure and causing heart, kidney, and blood vessel damage.

John Schindler, MD, an interventional cardiologist with UPMC’s Heart and Vascular Institute, is participating in an industry-funded clinical trial in which a device is placed in an artery leading to the kidney. “This therapy uses a catheter to deliver low radiofrequency energy to destroy or disable the renal nerves,” says Dr. Schindler. “If effective, this device could be a valuable alternative to medications for patients with resistant hypertension.”

For more information, contact Lisa Baxendell, RN, at 412-802-8672.

Eliminating Blood Clots

In 2013, nearly a quarter-million adults will be diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis (DVT), in which blood clots form mainly in a deep vein in the leg. DVT can result in persistent leg pain and swelling; if the clot breaks loose and moves to the lungs, a potentially deadly pulmonary embolism can occur. Conventional treatment involves blood thinners and wearing compression hosiery. “We want to dissolve the clot to eliminate its consequences,” says Rabih Chaer, MD, a UPMC vascular surgeon.

Dr. Chaer is participating in a national, multidisciplinary clinical trial to determine if DVT patients would benefit from a more aggressive treatment involving the use of an image-guided catheter to dissolve the clot. “In vascular surgery, our work is technology driven; medical devices are constantly changing,” says Dr. Chaer. “By testing innovative devices, we offer our patients new opportunities to alleviate or resolve their illness.”

For more information, contact Susan Tamburro at 412-623-8452.

To learn more about the benefits of clinical trials in patient care, please refer to our Hope and Healing article to read about UPMC’s advancements in the treatment of hepatitis C.

Clinical Trials

To view a complete list of all current clinical trials offered by UPMC, please visit the University of Pittsburgh Office of Clinical Research and search by study name, keyword, or participant credentials.​


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