Dr. Vanja Nagy, key researcher (molecular neurobiology) at LBI-RUD, successfully applied for a FWF Stand-alone grant entitled “Multifunctional Roles of the Sensory Nervous System”. The project is set to start next year with a duration of 3 years.
Acute and chronic pain syndromes affect about 20% of the world’s population, creating an urgent and expensive public health care problem. Non-habit forming pain therapeutics are still lacking, and by understanding the molecular and cellular basis underlying various pain syndromes, the group of Vanja Nagy aims to identify novel targets for therapies. Congenital Insensitivity to Pain with Anhidrosis (CIP/A) is a group of rare inherited peripheral nervous system disorders caused by mutations in several genes critical for sensory neuronal function. Main clinical phenotype is an absence of pain perception; however, common to many CIP/A syndromes are recurring bacterial infections, frequent bone fractures, oral osteolysis and osteomyelitis, causing severe life-threatening complications and frequent hospitalizations. The Nagy group has generated several mouse models of this complex disease and intend to perform deep phenotyping to understand the multifunctionality of the sensory nervous system. They will construct a complete overview of the developmental-stage and stimulus-specific transcriptomes and secretomes of sensory neurons, and therefore decipher the molecular underpinnings of the entire complex clinical indices of CIP. Additionally, they will identify epigenetic mechanisms that allow for sensory neuronal multifunctionality. The outcome of this project will have implications far beyond the rare disease studied here: it will identify novel nociceptive genes as therapeutic targets for treatment of more common pain-related conditions and shed light on basic human physiology previously unexplored.