RESEARCH

Clinical Research Facility

The Clinical Research Facility serves as a critical resource for the Dental School and the Health Science Center where investigators can take new knowledge learned in the laboratory and bring it to clinical practice. Centralization of these activities in the Clinical Research Facility allows synergy among clinical researchers not available within individual departments. This synergy truly fosters multidisciplinary investigations so necessary for success in today's increasingly competitive research world.

Facility Overview
Located in the heart of the South Texas Medical Center, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Dental School was founded in 1970. The dental school houses state-of-the-art equipment, a faculty with expertise in all of the dental disciplines and an outpatient clinic, which draws patients from the community. Faculty of the dental school come from across the nation and around the world. Many are recognized internationally as authorities in their field.

The Clinical Research Facility, located in the UTHSCSA Dental School, was established in 1987 to support the clinical research activities of the faculty and staff of the dental school. The facility was formulated with the concept of providing a clinical research environment that will meet the demands of most disciplines of oral health research. The basic goals of the Clinical Research Facility are to support faculty efforts in clinical research and to offer comprehensive and extensive clinical trial experience supported by the National Institutes of Health and Industry.

The facility is comprised of 10 operatories; each equipped with a dental unit consisting of the dental chair, handpiece connections and evacuation system. In addition, the facility is equipped with ultrasonic systems, implant placement systems and curing lights. The facility also houses an intra-oral radiography machine, and equipment for comprehensive documentation of intra and extra-oral photographs and video. A reception area, data entry/storage center, and a laboratory are also part of the facility. Other resources available to those utilizing the facility include an on-site Institutional Review Board, statistical consulting services, data analysis and comprehensive dental imaging.

All dental and maxillofacial investigations can be supported with advanced radiographic analysis equipment and methods. Endosseous dental implant treatment evaluations and periodontal bone assessment can be performed with digital image subtraction and accurate bone density change quantification. State-of-the-art image analysis workstations are available for measurements of CT and MRI images in evaluation of skeletal effects of disease and treatments.

Access to the outpatient clinic patient database is available which enhances rapid patient enrollment into studies. Over 5,000 patients are screened each year for specific oral and systemic conditions.

The director, a research coordinator and a dental assistant conduct the operation of the facility on a full-time basis. These personnel have extensive clinical trial experience and are available to assist in all areas of clinical research. Faculty working in the facility have strong qualifications in clinical research and many are calibrated in procedures unique to their areas of research. Some of the services offered by the facility include protocol development, patient recruitment and management, access to patient databases, data entry, management and analysis, and product and data storage that is secure and confidential.

The center conducts research in a variety of areas, including but not limited to; dentifrices and cleaning aids, dental materials, implantology, periodontology, sialo-chemistry, anesthetics, pharmaceuticals, oral complications of immunosuppression, and bone grafting

Areas of Research

DENTIFRICES, MOUTHRINSES & DENTAL CLEANING AIDES
The research division of the Department of Dental Diagnostic Science has been conducting trials in the Clinical Research Facility since its opening in 1987. The division conducts clinical trials on dentifrices, mouthrinses, tartar preventatives, and dental cleaning aides with therapeutic value. Research is also conducted at various sites throughout the country of Guatemala.

SALIVARY RESEARCH
In the area of salivary research, current and past studies have been undertaken to understand the effect of age, disease and medications on salivary gland function. These studies measure the volume of fluid in the mouth and determine the salivary content of several antimicrobial and antifungal factors. The long-term goal of these studies is to gain a clearer understanding of the relationship between salivary gland function and oral health and oral disease.

IMPLANTOLOGY
Several ongoing studies are evaluating endosseous dental implants in patients. For example, in vitro and animal experimentation demonstrates that roughened dental implant surfaces result in enhanced integration at the cellular and tissue levels. The current multi-year trials are evaluating the performance of one particular surface, which has allowed restoration in half the time of traditional implants. These studies are part of multicenter international clinical trials.

DENTAL PHARMAEUTICALS
Studies have focused on the local delivery of antimicrobials for the treatment of periodontal disease. These studies are part of multicenter international studies that evaluate new polymer systems that incorporate agents, such as antimicrobials, that are released into specific periodontal sites where disease has occurred. Because periodontal disease is a site-specific disease, the results of such studies can be particularly promising.

BONE GRAFTING
Many agents have been used to stimulate bone and/or periodontal regeneration in the oral cavity and/or around teeth. One promising approach in addition to traditional bone grafting materials is the use of growth promoting substances. These substances range from purified extracts to recombinant human proteins. Multiple studies are ongoing to evaluate the effects of such materials in stimulating bone growth for subsequent endosseous dental implant placement and around teeth to stimulate regeneration of periodontal ligament, cementum and bone.

DENTAL MATERIALS
Faculty of the Departments of Restorative Dentistry and General Dentistry conduct clinical research on dental materials and restorative procedures. These clinical trials are many times part of a collaborative effort with faculty of other institutions in this country and abroad. In vitro studies, which are sometimes a precursor to clinical studies, are conducted in the dental materials laboratories here and at other institutions.

DENTAL ANESTHETICS
Several trials have been conducted evaluating the effectiveness of local anesthetics and the techniques used in their delivery.

ORAL COMPLICATIONS OF IMMUNOSUPPRESSION
Oral opportunistic infections with such organisms as Candida and Herpes Simplex are very common in patients with immunosuppression. Studies have evaluated the best therapies for treatment and prevention of Candida infection in HIV patients and cancer patients receiving head and neck radiation. Other studies have focused on prevention of Herpes Simplex infections in patients receiving cancer chemotherapy. Also therapies to lessen or prevent chemotherapy mucositis are ongoing. These studies emphasize the availability of the Clinical Research Facility for multidisciplinary clinical trials as these studies include faculty from the Medical School and the Graduate School.

The Clinical Research Facility serves as a critical resource for the Dental School and the Health Science Center where investigators can take new knowledge learned in the laboratory and bring it to clinical practice. Centralization of these activities in the Clinical Research Facility allows synergy among clinical researchers not available within individual departments. This synergy truly fosters multidisciplinary investigations so necessary for success in today’s increasingly competitive research world.

For more information, please contact:

Thomas Oates DMD, PhD
Assistant Dean for Clinical Research