Study aims to identify screening tool leading to new treatments for painful bladder condition
The U.S. Department of Defense has awarded a $3.86 million grant to Beaumont researchers to develop a simple screening tool to speed diagnosis leading to new treatments for a chronic bladder condition, interstitial cystitis.
The study is being led by investigator Laura Lamb, Ph.D., director of Translational Urology Research, Beaumont Research Institute. This DOD grant is among the largest ever received by a Beaumont research team.
“Interstitial cystitis can affect an individual’s ability to serve his or her country,” said Dr. Lamb, also an associate professor at the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine. “Our hope is that we can help with military readiness, as well as the general well-being and health of services members.”
People with IC, a chronic bladder condition, experience frequent urination, urgency to urinate and intense pain in the bladder or pelvic region.As a result, they often find it difficult to get a good night’s sleep, maintain meaningful social connections or even hold a job. Many are on disability.
According to Richard H. Kennedy, Ph.D., vice president and director of the Beaumont Research Institute, “Based on competitive peer-review, Dr. Lamb and her team have received significant federal funding for their research that targets development of a novel diagnostic urine test and machine learning to facilitate rapid diagnosis and thus clinical management of IC. Machine Learning teaches computers to learn without being programmed. This award continues the long-standing success and impact of our urology research laboratory.”
Study participants are currently being recruited online in each of the 50 states with the support of a social media campaign lead by the Interstitial Cystitis Association. The effort aims to engage 3,000 IC patients and 1,000 non-IC individuals, including military and nonmilitary. Interested candidates can request a test kit via online application, available in both English and Spanish.
The study is conducted in partnership with the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and the Einstein School of Medicine in New York City.
Currently, IC is treated with a patchwork of medications.
“The big problem: there is no easy screening test,” Dr. Lamb said. “Symptoms overlap with other illnesses, so it becomes a diagnosis of elimination. Many people go for years without knowing the cause of these very significant challenges.”
The condition affects between 4 and 12 million Americans – including 3 to 8 million women, many in their 30s, 40s, and 50s, although IC affects most people for life.
“Lack of diagnosis has made it difficult for drug companies to come up with meaningful solutions,” Dr. Lamb continued.
According to Dr. Michael Chancellor, co-investigator on the study and professor of Urology at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine, “This is one of the first advance medical technology studies using Machine Learning to develop a new diagnostic test. Also significant – social media will be utilized as a recruitment tool. If successful, this could lead to FDA approval based on groundbreaking research by Beaumont.”