Luo awarded $1.4 million grant to investigate mechanisms of potential therapy for chronic bladder pain

Yi Luo, MD, PhD
Dr. Yi Luo

A team of researchers in the University of Iowa Department of Urology has been awarded a four-year, $1,399,501 grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to support ongoing development of an interferon (IFN)-γ targeted therapy to treat chronic pain caused by interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome (IC/BPS).

The study is led by principal investigator Yi Luo, MD, PhD, professor of urology and basic research scientist in the UI Department of Urology. Study co-investigators are Karl J. Kreder, MD, MBA, professor of urology and Rubin H. Flocks Chair of the UI Department of Urology, and Michael A. O’Donnell, MD, Richard D. Williams Professor of Urology and director of urologic oncology for UI Health Care.

There is no cure for IC/BPS, which is a chronic urologic disorder that affects as many as 12 million people in the U.S. Its symptoms include persistent pelvic or bladder pain that severely impacts quality of life. IC/BPS has two subtypes: one characterized by reddish lesions in the bladder that are known as Hunner lesions (IC/BPS-HL) and one without Hunner lesions in the bladder (IC/BPS-nonHL).

The UI Department of Urology team will focus on identifying the mechanisms of a novel DNA aptamer-based IFN-γ targeted therapy to treat chronic cystitis pain seen in patients with IC/BPS-HL. The grant-funded work will be a continuation of previous UI Urology studies, conducted in collaboration with other investigators, that identified prominent expression of IFN-γ in the IC/BPS-HL bladder and demonstrated that instillation of the novel aptamer could prevent chronic cystitis pain in a murine model of IC/BPS-HL.

“Our aim is to develop a novel mechanistically justified anti-IFN-γ DNA aptamer therapy for IC/BPS-HL pain,” Dr. Luo says. “IC/BPS is prevalent in the age group typical for military service members, veterans, and their family members. We anticipate that our study will greatly benefit military and civilian public health care.”

The funding is provided by the Chronic Pain Management Research Program of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs of the Department of Defense.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023