A Conversation with Dr. Kenneth Goldberg, Principal Investigator of the PEARL ONJ Study
If you are a practicing dentist and are interested in becoming a PEARL Member, please visit: www.pearlnetwork.org and click on "Become a PEARL Practitioner"
Dr. Kenneth Goldberg, a private practitioner for more than 25 years in Cliffside Park, New Jersey, is the principal investigator on the PEARL* Network’s new study on osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ). He has also been the PI on studies sponsored by pharmaceutical and dental product companies, in such areas as dentin hypersensitivity, xerostomia, tooth whitening, chewable oral contraceptives, experimental dentifrices and nicotine mouth strips for smoking cessation.
Dr. Goldberg recently spoke with Global Health Nexus about his reasons for joining the PEARL Network and conducting clinical research in his private practice.
Global Health Nexus (GHN): Why did you choose to join PEARL, a network of practicing dentists involved in clinical research?
Dr. Goldberg: Like many solo practitioners, I’d like to have a network of peers I can count on for practical advice on patient care. The PEARL Network serves this purpose by bringing together practitioners with an interest in enhancing patient care. It creates a community that empowers its members to solve difficult questions relating to patient care through cuttingedge research in dental science and technique.
GHN: Why did you choose to lead a study on ONJ?
Dr. Goldberg: This study examines an issue that should be of concern to every practitioner; namely, do patients who use bisphosphonate drugs for osteoporosis and bone tumor treatment risk developing ONJ, and do certain oral surgery procedures, such as tooth extraction, pose an added risk of ONJ for these patients?
GHN: Why is this study particularly important now?
Dr. Goldberg: More evidence is urgently needed to clarify whether there is a link between the use of bisphosphonate drugs and ONJ because as the population ages, the percentage of dental patients taking bisphosphonate drugs—particularly women suffering from osteoporosis—is growing. And today, with oral and systemic health increasingly seen as being interconnected, it’s essential that every practitioner understand the relationship between dental treatment and his or her patient’s entire physiology. By evaluating whether certain oral surgical procedures, such as tooth extraction, pose an added risk of ONJ in bisphosphonate users, this study will help us to better anticipate and manage our patients’ needs.
How to Participate in the ONJ Study
If you have treated a patient with ONJ in the past five years, but have not yet registered for this study, please contact: PEARL Senior Clinical Research Associate
Eileen Capstraw at 212.998.9636 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Osteonecrosis of the Jaw (ONJ)
Over three million people in the U.S. are either intravenously or orally taking a group of drugs called bisphosphonates for metastatic bone cancer, osteoporosis, Paget’s disease, or acute hypercalcemia. These include Fosamax (alendronate), Boniva (bandronate sodium), Actonal (risedronate sodium), as well as Aredia (pamidronate disodium) and Zometa (zoledronic acid). Some of these drugs can reduce the survival and function of osteoclasts (i.e., boneresorbing cells). In addition, they can also reduce the formation of new blood vessels. Perhaps due to the above properties of these drugs, a disease called "osteonecrosis of the jaw" (ONJ) recently has been linked to bisphosphonates. ONJ is a clinical entity that is characterized by an area of exposed bone in the mandible, maxilla, or palate that heals poorly and unusually slowly. The PEARL Network, with the two other U.S. practicebased research networks, is conducting a study aimed at understanding the role of oral diseases and dental treatment in the etiology of ONJ in patients who are taking bisphosphonates.
*PEARL (Practioners Engaged in Applied Research and Learning) Network is the name of the NYU practice-based research network (PBRN), an NIDCR-supported grant to network dental offices in research projects in order to bring greater scientific rigor to "everyday" issues in the practice and delivery or oral health care.