The cellular heterogeneity of the bladder, prostate, and other organs of the genitourinary system creates special challenges for researchers. Resident specialized cells have unique roles in maintaining proper organ structure and function; therefore, these cells are expected to express a distinct compliment of genes, proteins, and cellular features. To describe the roles of individual cell types in organ physiology and in pathophysiology of disease, investigators must successfully isolate and analyze the cell types for their unique cellular and functional characteristics. For these reasons, the development of tools, reagents, and methods to define the cellular complexity and function of organs is critical.
In August 2002, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the National Cancer Institute, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development issued a program announcement (PA) for development of cell-selective tools for studies of the bladder, prostate, and genitourinary (GU) tract. In this initiative, the word "selective" indicates restricted to or prominent in certain cell types.
Elucidating the function of physiologically relevant, specialized cell types will enhance our understanding of the function of these organs in healthy and pathological states. This may in turn aid in the future development of therapeutics for diseases such as interstitial cystitis, infertility, benign prostatic hyperplasia, prostate cancer, and other malignant and non-malignant disorders of the GU tract, as well as in the discovery and development of novel targets for male contraception.
Strategies for Developing ToolsStrategies to be supported by this program include the following:
- Discovery of genes selective to individual cell types
- Characterization of cell-selective promoters
- Generation of transgenic mice carrying gene-disruptions under cell-selective or temporal control
- Generation of antibodies to cell-selective proteins
- Development of novel imaging techniques to study individual cell-types
- Discovery of biomarkers that indicate health or mass of individual cell-types
- Development of cell-selective "drugable" targets and assays for such targets in animal models and/or humans
- Identification of novel cell-specific markers that will facilitate the understanding of epithelial cell-stromal cell interactions in both normal and malignant tissues
A better understanding of the unique characteristics, such as the differences in gene and protein expression and the function of individual resident cell types, will provide an essential foundation for investigations directed at preventing and treating disease. The Bladder Research Progress Review Group www.nih.niddk.gov/fund/other/bladderprg_web/index.html and the Prostate Research Progress Review Group have deemed achieving the goals outlined in this program a high-priority. For more information see PAR-02-143Program Officers: Chris Mullins, Ph.D., and Robert Star, M.D., 301-594-7717.