The Interstitial Cystitis Association (ICA) Pilot Research Program began in 1985 and remains the first and only interstitial cystitis (IC) dedicated research program funded by a non-profit, patient association. To date, the ICA Pilot Research Program has funded over 70 IC research projects, totaling more than $1 million. Donations for this research program are collected through the IMAGINE NO IC campaign.

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Often scientists with novel IC research proposals are unable to receive funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) because they lack the preliminary data required for NIH grant approval. That’s where the ICA Pilot Research Program comes in—we provide researchers with the initial grant monies needed to get their projects literally “off the ground.” ICA pilot research, funded largely by the Fishbein Family Foundation and ICA patient contributions, has “opened the door” for many researchers and enabled them to obtain large government grants to further pursue their explorations into the causes and treatments of IC.

What We’ve Learned Thus Far

The ICA Pilot program has been an exceptionally successful program. This is a reflection of the generosity of donors and the Fishbein Family Foundation, excellent work of the researchers, dedication and expertise of the scientific review committees, and the ICA’s ongoing networking within the research community. Highlights include the work of:

Many of these funded pilot IC research projects went on to receive National Institutes of Health (NIH) research funding. The importance of this cannot be overstated since NIH funding allows researchers to further pursue the work they began thanks to initial funding from the ICA Pilot Program and Fishbein Family Foundation. Learn about how your donations really do help advance our understanding about IC and translate into studies to find better treatment options and ultimately a cure.

Current Funded Projects

ICA is pleased to announce that Dr. Kristina Allen-Brady of the University of Utah and Dr. Pradeep Tyagi of the University of Pittsburgh are the newest recipients of research funding through ICA’s Pilot Research Program. The one-year awards of up to $50,000 are intended to fund novel and useful basic, clinical, or translational research studies that attempt to solve the many questions of IC – a bladder condition consisting of recurring pelvic pain, pressure, or discomfort in the bladder and pelvic region, and urinary frequency and urgency.

With this funding, Dr. Allen-Brady’s research, A pilot study to identify predisposition genes for Interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome, will investigate the possibility of using genetic testing to determine those at risk of developing IC. Though etiology of IC is unknown, family history is a leading known risk factor for future occurrence of IC. “I am very appreciative of pilot study funds from the ICA for my continued work on interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome, “says Dr. Allen-Brady. “These funds allow us to identify existing pathology samples from high-risk pedigree members diagnosed with IC and study genetic risk factors for this debilitating disease.”

Dr. Tyagi and his research team, in his study entitled, Urinary proteases and exosomes as non-invasive biomarkers of interstitial cystitis, will investigate the potential of developing a diagnostic test for IC based on molecular signatures of urine. Ongoing research in the laboratory has indicated that expression of chemokines and proteases may be intertwined in IC. Therefore, it may be possible to discriminate between true IC patients and patients with other bladder or pelvic floor disorders. Asked about his research, Dr. Tyagi said, “ICA funding will help us carry out a pilot clinical study on IC patients for identifying a protease uniquely expressed by IC patients. Upon successful completion of this pilot study, we will partner with a biotech company to develop a urine-based non-invasive test for IC patients that can potentially assist in diagnosis and measuring patient response to therapeutic intervention.”

Both studies are important steps toward better treatment and finding a cure for IC. Their potential to advance the ability of healthcare providers to identify individuals at high-risk of developing IC, in conjunction with improvements in prevention, screening, and treatment, have the possibility of dramatically reducing the disease’s impact on the lives of those affected by IC.

“Some patients can go years suffering with IC before they are diagnosed and properly treated. The research of Drs. Allen-Brady and Tyagi and their teams could speed a patient’s time to diagnosis and to earlier, possibly more effective, treatment,” said Lee Claassen, executive director of the Interstitial Cystitis Association.

Funding research is vital for those who suffer from the disease. Donations to ICA have enabled the organization to support this and other promising research. Continued support of ICA is critical to furthering IC research. Because of the discoveries and work by so many diligent investigators, there is hope for development of better treatments and an eventual cure for IC.


Revised Tuesday, March 10th, 2015