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NIDDK to Fund Gene Expression Studies of Chronic Pelvic Pain Disorders

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases plans to spend $1.5 million next year to fund a number of studies that will explore the molecular anatomy of pain receptors that are associated with pain in the urinary tract and pelvic region.

These studies will generate knowledge about the genes and gene and protein expression activities in patients who perceive chronic pain in the pelvis or urogenital floor, which is a primary feature of painful bladder syndrome (PBS) and chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CPPS).

The focus of these studies will be on understanding the molecular landscape of nociceptors and associated cell types that are involved in the chronic pain sensations that afflict these PBS and CPPS patients. The larger aim of such research is to use this knowledge to develop ways to reduce this nociceptor activity or to block their input into the central nervous system.

Currently, diagnosis of these conditions is based solely on patient-reported symptoms. The underlying etiology and pathophysiology of these diseases remain unknown, and there are no generally effective clinical therapeutics for these patients, NIDDK said in a request for applications.

To address these disorders, the institute has already developed and supported a number of clinical and epidemiological studies of PBS and CPPS patients, including research groups making up the GenitoUrinary Developmental Molecular Anatomy Project (GUDMAP) consortium, which seeks to produce a high-quality molecular anatomy of the mammalian urogenital tract.

This new funding will support the Nociceptive GenitoUrinary Development Molecular Anatomy Project (nGUDMAP), which will use the same approach as the GUDMAP effort but will focus on how nociceptive systems develop in the embryo and mature as an adult.

The nGUDMAP will support research projects and an atlas assembly project, and the researchers are expected to work with other members of the GUDMAP consortium to share data.

These new grants will provide between $100,000 and $200,000 for one-year projects that will use a range of 'omics approaches to study the molecular anatomy of these pain receptors.

Some researchers may use the funding for large-scale spatial analyses of gene and protein expression to provide near-genome-wide analyses of gene expression of a nociceptve cell component or nociceptor subpopulations in specific organs. The investigators also may conduct low-resolution analyses of gene expression, using high-throughput strategies but focused on a restricted set of genes.

These projects also could involve high-resolution, three-dimensional analyses of a set of genes or gene products with the aim or producing representations of gene patterns and relate them to functional, anatomical, or molecular hallmarks of nociceptor subpopulations.

Other studies could include using next-generation RNA sequencing or other methods to establish a set of novel cell-type specific molecular markers.

The researchers also may seek to develop new tools that may support other molecular anatomy studies of the nociceptive system.

The new funds also will back the Atlas Assembly Project, in which researchers will work closely with nGUDMAP efforts to create a murine molecular anatomy atlas of nociceptive systems in the urinary tract and pelvic region.