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Contact: Vicki Cohn, (914) 740-2156, vcohn@liebertpub.com
Novel Treatment Approach for Bladder Pain Using a Herpes Simplex Virus Vector Reported in Human Gene Therapy

New Rochelle, NY, March 14, 2013—Severe chronic pain associated with conditions such as bladder pain syndrome/interstitial cystitis often require the use of opioid medication, with the risk of dependency and serious adverse reactions. An alternative treatment strategy increases the levels of a naturally occurring painkiller in and around the nerves that deliver pain signals to the bladder. This new therapeutic approach is described in an article in Human Gene Therapy, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available on the Human Gene Therapy website.

Hitoshi Yokoyama, MD and colleagues from University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine (PA), Shinshu University School of Medicine (Matsumoto, Japan), and Diamyd (Pittsburgh, PA) describe a gene therapy technique in which they inject directly into the bladder wall the gene for enkephalin, an opioid compound produced by the human body. The gene is transported into the target cells via a herpes simplex virus vector that is incapable of replication.

In the article "Effects of Herpes Simplex Virus Vector-Mediated Enkephalin Gene Therapy on Bladder Overactivity and Nociception," the authors demonstrate high levels of enkephalin gene expression in the treated rats and significantly lower measures of pain compared to untreated animals when exposed to stimuli intended to induce bladder irritation. The researchers note that a similar gene therapy delivery vector carrying an enkephalin gene has been used in clinical studies in human patients to treat cancer-related pain, and was shown to be well tolerated and safe and to provide substantial pain relief.

“This is a very innovative application of Herpes Simplex Virus gene therapy in the treatment of a common and  painful clinical problem that otherwise requires chronic use of narcotics,” says James M. Wilson, MD, PhD, Editor-in-Chief, and Director of the Gene Therapy Program, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia.

About the Journal
Human Gene Therapy, the Official Journal of the European Society of Gene and Cell Therapy, British Society for Gene and Cell Therapy, French Society of Cell and Gene Therapy, German Society of Gene Therapy, and five other gene therapy societies, is an authoritative peer-reviewed journal published monthly in print and online. Human Gene Therapy presents reports on the transfer and expression of genes in mammals, including humans. Related topics include improvements in vector development, delivery systems, and animal models, particularly in the areas of cancer, heart disease, viral disease, genetic disease, and neurological disease, as well as ethical, legal, and regulatory issues related to the gene transfer in humans. Its sister journal, Human Gene Therapy Methods, published bimonthly, focuses on the application of gene therapy to product testing and development, and Human Gene Therapy Clinical Development, launching in 2013, publishes data relevant to the regulatory review and commercial development of cell and gene therapy products. Tables of content and a free sample issue may be viewed on the Human Gene Therapy website.

About the Publisher
Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers is a privately held, fully integrated media company known for establishing authoritative peer-reviewed journals in many promising areas of science and biomedical research, including Nucleic Acid Therapeutics, Tissue Engineering, Stem Cells and Development, and Cellular Reprogramming. Its biotechnology trade magazine, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN), was the first in its field and is today the industry’s most widely read publication worldwide. A complete list of the firm’s 70 journals, books, and newsmagazines is available on the Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers website.