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THE "RESEARCH TRIANGLE" CONCEPT

"Research triangles" with a veterinary laser laboratory as the base for innovative biomedical laser investigation, have been successful at several institutions including Oklahoma State University (Figure 5). Physicists and laser engineers play the major roles during this initial phase, but veterinarians, physicians and other biomedical scientists also play an active role in any investigation that may result in a clinical application.

The second phase of research and development should logically involve cadaveric or large tissue studies that might lead to live animal investigations. At this stage, veterinarians can be the main catalysts for the advancement of biomedical laser technology and laser-based therapeutic techniques. Their expertise and training with multiple species and practical medical knowlege can often expedite research projects and reduce the number of animals needed for a study.

Objective studies often will prove some applications to be impractical for clinical purposes. However, it is essential to realize that although an idea or new device may be impractical for mainstream veterinary medicine because of high cost and limited availability, veterinay participation on the biomedical research team is essential for both animal care and for an objective understanding of the clinical uses of biomedical lasers.

The third point of the research triangle is the transfer of technology to the human health care provider of commerial venturer who can then market the idea, instrumentation or technique. With this exception in mind, industrial partners and human health care organizations have sought and established collaborations with veterinary biomedical laser programs.

Although a number of manufacturers such as Luxa, Sharplan and Surgimedics have made concerted marketing efforts focused on the veterinary profession, most practitioners find biomedical lasers too expensive and limited in their applicability. However, with trends in veterinary medicine toward minimally invasive diagnosis and therapy, the use of lasers for both direct and transendoscopic tissue ablation should become more popular. Coupled with educational opportunities provided by both manufacturers and academic or organizational outreach programs, veterinary laser surgery and medicine could blossom in the next five years.

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