Training for urology scientists to develop new treatments

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Urinary incontinence (UI) affects around ten per cent of the total population, yet because not enough is known about how the bladder works treatments are limited.

Academics at Bristol University’s School of Clinical Sciences, based in the Bristol Urological Institute at Southmead Hospital, have been awarded a grant of over £200,000 from the EU as part of the TRUST (training of urology scientists to develop new treatments) programme.

The most common cause of UI is a condition called the overactive bladder syndrome (OABS) but the condition is poorly understood and no effective non-invasive treatment without side effects is available or can be developed without combining multiple scientific disciplines.

The EU framework 7 (FP7) grant of over three million euros has been awarded to eight European universities and three commercial partners.  The project will be led by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and includes a major work package led by the University of Bristol. It will look at how bladder sensation works, to understand the physiological systems in the whole organism and to develop new diagnostic, prevention and treatment strategies.

The TRUST programme will train early stage researchers in scientific and clinical aspects of urological research, particularly the urinary bladder and incontinence.  It will create the “next generation urology researchers” by:

  • Providing an interdisciplinary and international scientific training network for researchers;

Offering complementary training, eg in translating scientific knowledge into medical applications, project management, soft skills, culture and international experience.

Marcus Drake, Consultant Senior Lecturer at the Bristol Urological Institute, based at Southmead Hospital, said: “Due to an ageing population the number of people suffering from urinary incontinence is likely to rise.  This distressing condition has a major impact on quality of life and will add additional strain on already stretched resources.

“The TRUST programme will go a long way to help us meet the clinical challenge, and we are delighted to be leading one of the main work packages.” 

The University of Bristol’s role in the TRUST project will be to study the anatomy and function of a pig’s bladder and lower urinary tract (LUT) both in the healthy and the diseased state.

The TRUST partners are the Bristol Urological Institute, UK; Sheffield Hallam Biomedica, UK; University of Sheffield, UK; University of Leuven and the University of Antwerp, Belgium; University of Warsaw, Poland; Erasmus Medical Centre Rotterdam and Hospital Maastricht, the Netherlands; Plethors Solutions Ltd, UK; Urodoc Ltd, UK and Astellas Pharma Inc, the Netherlands.

The two-year project ‘Training of urology scientists to develop new treatments’ will begin on 1 January 2011.  The grant of €3.24 million has been awarded from the EU 7th framework programme Marie Curie Networks for Initial Training.