Journal of Biomedical OpticsApplications of optical coherence tomography to cardiac and musculoskeletal diseases: bench to bedside?
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Selected historical aspects of the transition of optical coherence tomography (OCT) research from the bench to bedside are focused on. The primary function of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is to improve the diagnosis and treatment of human pathologies. Therefore, research funded by the NIH should have a direct envisioned pathway for transitioning bench work to the bedside. Ultimately, to be successful, this work must be accepted by physicians and by the general science community. This typically requires robustly validated hypothesis-driven research. Work that is not appropriately compared to the current gold standard or does not address a specific pathology is unlikely to achieve widespread acceptance. I outline OCT research in the musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems, examining the rapid transition from bench to bedside and look at initial validated hypothesis-driven research data that suggested clinical utility, which drove technology development toward specific clinical scenarios. I also consider the time of initial funding compared to when it was applied in patients with clinical pathologies. Finally, ongoing bench work being performed in parallel with clinical studies is examined. The specific applications examined here are identifying unstable coronary plaque and the early detection of osteoarthritis, the former was brought to the bedside primarily through a commercial route while the latter through NIH-funded research.