Urology Research and Clinical Trials

urology clinical trials at Beaumont

Urology research at Beaumont is on the leading edge of clinical practice, aimed at bringing innovative research protocols to patient care, advancing the treatment of disease, improving patient outcomes and enhancing quality of life. Known as a leader in the field, Beaumont is involved in several innovative research studies. These translational and clinical studies, along with sponsored pharmaceutical, biologic and equipment/device trials, offer the opportunity to treat disease states that traditional therapies fail to address. Areas of research interest and expertise cover a wide range of urologic diseases and conditions such as:

Urology Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are studies that develop, produce and evaluate the effectiveness of new treatments and therapies for diseases. They are managed by government agencies, educational institutions, private not-for-profit organizations, or commercial businesses.

Individuals who participate in research studies are given the opportunity to benefit from treatments that are not currently available to the general public, but have shown promise in previous research. Risks from participating in a clinical trial vary depending on the study. It is important to understand that not all new treatments produce the desired effect.

Following are some of Beaumont’s past and current studies:

Beaumont Health Urology Translational Research

The Urology Research Laboratory at Beaumont Hospital – Royal Oak is dedicated to translating basic research into treatments that will help patients with difficult to treat urological conditions such as interstitial cystitis, radiation cystitis, or underactive bladder. The Beaumont team seeks to close the gap in both understanding and treating these conditions. This would not be possible without the generosity of the Taubman Family and Aikens Family, and support of the Urology Care Foundation’s Research Scholars Program.

Three translational research programs are outlined below:

  1. Interstitial cystitis / bladder pain syndrome: The Taubman family’s generous donation allows Beaumont to actively explore inherited genetic susceptibility, which has been implicated in the etiology of interstitial cystitis and bladder pain syndrome. This has led to a better understanding of the role that genes and genetic modification play in these conditions, which will aid in the development of new diagnostic and treatment options.
  2. Radiation cystitis / hemorrhagic cystitis: Radiation cystitis/hemorrhagic cystitis research is exploring the symptoms, causes and progression of the condition and testing new treatments in humans to preserve bladder integrity and quality of life.
  3. Underactive bladder: The Aikens Center for Neurourology Research at Beaumont – Royal Oak is developing diagnostic tests, preventative strategies and new therapies for underactive bladder. In addition, the center and a grant from the National Institute on Aging and National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases supports the only educational program dedicated to underactive bladder — The International Congress on Underactive Bladder (CURE-UAB) series.

Women’s Urology Research

The Women’s Urology Center, a dedicated 4,200-square-foot, $1.6 million eco-friendly center on the Beaumont – Royal Oak campus, provides urological care and offers research options for a variety of conditions the affect women. The funding also supports ongoing research to advance women’s urology and improve care for women.

Pudendal Nerve Stimulation

Beaumont developed a technique to place an electrode at the pudendal nerve, located in the pelvis near the tailbone, to treat bladder and bowel dysfunction. Efficacy was shown in a randomized crossover clinical trial of pudendal vs. sacral stimulation for voiding dysfunction. Beaumont has been the leading center for pudendal implants in the United States. Patients and physicians have traveled from across the world to either receive an implant or learn the technique.

Tibial Nerve Stimulation for Overactive Bladder

This trial provided Level I evidence that tibial nerve stimulation is an effective and durable treatment for patients with overactive bladder (OAB). Currently, Beaumont is researching less invasive, non-needle methods of tibial nerve stimulation that potentially could be used at home.

Cavernous Nerve Stimulation for Erectile Dysfunction

Beaumont researchers have obtained FDA approval to study the impact of placing an electrode at the cavernous nerve after prostatectomy. The goal is to enhance neural recovery and elicit on-demand erection by stimulating the electrode during the six weeks following radical prostatectomy. There is hope that this novel research study will lead to the development of an implantable device that can be marketed for use to physicians.

Nerve Rerouting to Restore Bladder Function in Spina Bifida

Our center was the first in North America to study the concept of rerouting a nerve from the leg to the bladder in catheter-dependent patients with myelomeningocele. At 36 months after rerouting, 66 percent of the patients were able to void on their own while maintaining stable renal function and discontinuing antimuscarinics. This preliminary data led to a multi-million dollar NIH grant to gain longer term data on sphincter reinnervation and possible changes in the areas of the brain involved in voiding.

Adult Human Stem Cells for Stress Urinary Incontinence

Beaumont – Royal Oak was the first center in the United States to use a person’s own cells to treat refractory stress urinary incontinence (SUI). SUI, the cause of urinary leakage with coughing or physical activity, affects about 13 million Americans, most of them women, but also men who have had prostatectomy (surgery for prostate cancer). Current treatments, including medicine, exercises and surgery, are not always effective and may have undesirable side effects. The cells are used to strengthen weak muscles that control urination. Muscle tissue that was obtained from the thigh is grown in culture to obtain the cells that are then injected back into the urinary sphincter. Over 80 women have been treated with excellent results at 12 months and the findings have been published in the Journal of Urology. 

Urine, Serum, and Tissue Biobanking

With Beaumont’s ongoing collection of urine, serum and tissue from patients with interstitial cystitis, chronic pelvic pain and other conditions, we have identified unique biomarkers that define subsets of interstitial cystitis/chronic pain to improve diagnosis and treatment. Investigations have also shown that patients responding to certain therapies such as neuromodulation have normalization of specific biomarkers associated with symptom improvement. By examining biological specimens, we are actively studying a specific tumor marker for kidney cancer that may result in a screening test for this often fatal disease.