Dr. J. Curtis Nickel, professor of Urology at Queen's and urologist at KGH, has been awarded an unprecedented four research grants from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), totaling almost $8 million. He and his Kingston Genito-urinary Research Group will examine alternative, complementary and novel therapies for prostate and bladder disease, in both laboratory research and clinical trials that will involve more than 3,000 men and women throughout southern Ontario.
"For these diseases, traditional medicine has offered all it can," says Dr. Nickel. "Alternative herbal therapies which people have been using for more than 4,000 years complementary therapies, and radically novel treatments must be evaluated by traditional clinical scientists, to determine their true effectiveness and safety."
The NIH, which coordinates all government health care research in the United States, has been directed by the U.S. Congress to look at herbal therapies that now make up a billion-dollar industry in North America. "It's exciting to embark on such a wide-ranging project with potential applications in so many areas," says Dr. Curtis. "There are probably more herbal than prescribed pharmaceutical treatments sold in Canada today but, without clinical evaluation, we don't know how safe they are, or whether they really work!"
The Queen's/KGH group has taken a leading role in designing, implementing and completing local, national and international multi-centre studies in benign diseases of the urinary tract. These studies have evaluated the traditional medical therapies currently used for these conditions.