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Home » Managing pain » New approach in research on two pelvic pain disorders

Dr Paulina Nunez-Badinez

Judy Birch B.Ed

Lydia Coxon BA

Endometriosis and interstitial cystitis affect millions worldwide. The causes of both diseases remain unknown, there is no cure and pain frequently persists and can worsen.

Status of the conditions

The recently updated International Classification of Diseases, ICD 11 includes the category “chronic visceral pain from persistent inflammation in the pelvic region”, hence recognising the pain associated with Endometriosis and Interstitial Cystitis/Bladder Pain Syndrome (IC/BPS) [1]. The public-private partnership Innovative Medicines Initiative, IMI-PainCare, aims to improve the management of chronic pain. Specifically, Chronic Pelvic Pain is the focus of their subproject TRiPP (Translational Research in Pelvic Pain) which is committed to improving the translation of laboratory and clinical findings into treatment for Endometriosis Associated Pain (EAP) and IC/BPS.

Click here to learn about the consortium “improving the care of patients suffering from acute or chronic pain”.

Diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis and IC/BPS

Endometriosis and IC/BPS are difficult to diagnose, with laparoscopic surgery and histology required for endometriosis diagnosis and IC/BPS being diagnosed when all other possible diseases causing bladder pain and increased urinary urgency and/or frequency are excluded. Whilst there are guidelines for treatments to improve pain symptoms, any symptom improvement is generally short-term and treatments have associated side-effects. Preclinical research in animal models for EAP and IC/BPS are at different developmental stages with a lack of consensus, which hinders the development of new medicines.

Disease understanding is essential

Currently, improving patient management is challenging because of the complexity of the disorders and our limited understanding of them. The TRiPP strategy is based on obtaining information, including biomarkers, directly from patients in order to identify the relevant biological pathways affected in these disorders. This information will be used to refine the existing preclinical models, with a particular focus on translational aspects so that they better reflect the symptoms seen in EAP and IC/BPS. One of TRiPP’s hypotheses is that the pain symptoms in EAP and IC/BPS are generated and maintained by mechanisms which are similar to those seen in other chronic pain conditions and that they occur alongside specific pathological lesions and symptoms. The project also aims to establish whether women with EAP and BPS can be stratified into subgroups and to explore whether these subgroups relate to treatment response.  

[1] Aziz, Q., et al., The IASP classification of chronic pain for ICD-11: chronic secondary visceral pain. Pain, 2019. 160(1): p. 69-76.

IMI-PainCare TRiPP aims to provide the scientific community with better tools to both manage pain and to discover new treatments and cures for endometriosis and IC/BPS, ultimately improving the quality of life for patients. Detailed information on this consortium can be found at

Disclaimer: This work has received support from the EU/EFPIA/Innovative Medicines Initiative [2] Joint Undertaking (IMI-PAINCARE) grant No 777500

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