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Gene Ther. 2009 Apr;16(4):558-69. doi: 10.1038/gt.2009.19. Epub 2009 Feb 26.

Herpes simplex virus vector-mediated gene delivery for the treatment of lower urinary tract pain.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA.


Interstitial cystitis (IC)/painful bladder syndrome (PBS) is a painful debilitating chronic visceral pain disorder of unknown etiology that affects an estimated 1 million people in the United States alone. It is characterized by inflammation of the bladder that results in chronic pelvic pain associated with bladder symptoms of urinary frequency and urgency. Regardless of the etiology, IC/PBS involves either increased and/or abnormal activity in afferent nociceptive sensory neurons. Pain-related symptoms in patients with IC/PBS are often very difficult to treat. Both medical and surgical therapies have had limited clinical utility in this debilitating disease and numerous drug treatments, such as heparin, dimethylsulfoxide and amitriptyline, have proven to be palliative at best, and in some IC/PBS patients provide no relief whatsoever. Although opiate narcotics have been employed to help alleviate IC/PBS pain, this strategy is fraught with problems as systemic narcotic administration causes multiple unwanted side effects including mental status change and constipation. Moreover, chronic systemic narcotic use leads to dependency and need for dose escalation due to tolerance; therefore, new therapies are desperately needed to treat refractory IC/PBS. This has led our group to develop a gene therapy strategy that could potentially alleviate chronic pelvic pain using the herpes simplex virus-directed delivery of analgesic proteins to the bladder.

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