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Innovative Research Initiatives Provide Fresh Insights in IC/BPS

Mullins C, Bavendam T, Kirkali Z, Kusek JW. Novel research approaches for interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome: thinking beyond the bladder. Transl Androl Urol. 2015 Oct;4(5):524-33. doi: 10.3978/j.issn.2223-4683.2015.08.01.

This unique review article describes some of the most innovative research initiatives providing fresh insights into interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome (IC/BPS). One of the better known initiatives is the Multidisciplinary Approach to the Study of Chronic Pelvic Pain (MAPP) Research Network, which was started in 2008 to address questions of how pelvic pain conditions develop, their underlying mechanisms, what patients typically experience them, and how the conditions relate to one another. Studies from MAPP have yielded numerous insights into IC/BPS and its pathophysiology, and in 2015, embarked on a new round of studies that will evaluate, among other things, how different groups of patients respond to certain treatments, potentially helping to pave the way for personalized medicine. Another initiative is the Interstitial Cystitis: Elucidation of Psychophysiologic and Autonomic Characteristics (ICEPAC) study, which was initiated in 2009 to assess how the nervous system and related factors contribute to IC/BPS symptoms. Some of the key findings of ICEPAC suggest that nervous system abnormalities are more than just a result of pain and may actually help sub-group patients that would potentially benefit from different types of treatments. A third initiative is the development of the Urinary, Psychosocial, Organ-specific, Infection, Neurologic/Systemic and Tenderness of Skeletal Muscle (UPOINT) classification system. The UPOINT system uses six different clinical characteristics (such as urinary symptoms, neurologic issues, and muscle tenderness) to classify patients into distinct subgroups. Taken together, the findings of these different initiatives are reshaping the views of the scientific and medical communities on the diagnosis, prognosis and clinical management of patients with IC/BPS.