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Urology research in Asia saw decreasing trend in the last 10 years

Christina Lau
15 Aug 2017
Dr Masato Fujisawa

Urology research in Asia has seen a slight decrease in the last 10 years, with heterogeneity in regulations and healthcare systems and the lack of research platforms hindering the implementation of region-wide clinical trials.

“We have seen a slight decrease in the number of Asian research papers published in leading urology journals between 2007 and 2016,” said Dr Masato Fujisawa of the Kobe University, Japan, who spoke at 15th Urological Association of Asia (UAA) Congress held recently in Hong Kong.

“While the number of Asian papers published in European Urology and World Journal of Urology has increased slightly between 2007 and 2016, those published in Journal of Urology, Urology and British Journal of Urology International have decreased during the same period. The number of Asian papers published in International Journal of Urology has remained more or less the same,” he continued.

In 2016, slightly more than 500 papers were published in these urology journals, compared with almost 600 in 2007. Most of the papers published in 2016 were from Japan, China, South Korea and Australia.

Rapid growth was seen, however, in the subspecialty of urologic robotic surgery, with the number of Asian papers increasing from slightly more than 200 in 2008 to more than 500 in 2016. More papers were published on procedures for the prostate and kidney than for the bladder.

“Japan, China and South Korea were the main contributors to scientific literature in urologic robotic surgery in the last few years, reflecting the rapid increase in urologic robotic surgeries performed in these countries,” said Fujisawa.

In Japan, for example, researchers at the Kobe University have kick-started the development of a surgical robot using industrial robot technology. Working in collaboration with a newly established robotic company, the researchers are anticipating availability of the surgical robot in the Japanese market in 2019. “Our next steps will be to establish this manoeuvrable, safe and low-cost surgical robot in other Asian markets and distribute it to the rest of the world,” said Fujisawa.

“However, implementation of region-wide clinical trials in Asia is complicated by the heterogeneity in healthcare systems and circumstances in different countries, the lack of active patient recruitment systems and efficient trial processes, and the lack of a research platform under the UAA to organize Asian studies,” he noted.

“To increase the global impact of Asian urology research, I strongly recommend the UAA to establish a research foundation as the platform and headquarters for region-wide clinical trials in Asia,” he suggested. “We need comprehensive infrastructure, financial support for clinical trials and registries, an extensive clinical and investigator database, as well as strong communication and pipeline to support researchers and build efficient clinical trial processes in our region.”

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