Basic Urology Research Laboratory
Room 630, Basic Science Building
|J. Todd Purves, M.D., Ph.D.|
Assistant Professor of Urology and Pediatrics, Cell Biology and Anatomy
Office: Room 623C, Clinical Science Building
Administrative Assistant: Kelly Lee Lucas
Francis “Monty” Hughes, Jr., Ph.D.
Our primary research focus is on the biology and treatment of bladder inflamation, which is termed cystitis. There are 3 main types of cystitis; chemical, mechanical (caused by stents) and bacterial (commonly known as Urinary Tract Infections or UTIs). Our work has begun with chemical cystitis induced by the chemotherapeutic agent cyclophosphamide (CP), which is particularly prevalent in patients who have undergone CP conditioning prior to bone marrow transplant. The mechanism of this condition is thought to involve damage to the bladder epithelia by CP that initiates reactivation and proliferation of latent BK virus, followed by an alloimmune attack by the transplanted bone marrow cells on the host bladder. Our initial work has shown that CP stimulates apoptosis in the bladder epithelia very early following administration and that this response is initiated through inflammatory mediators. We are currently identifying the mediators responsible for this effect, the pathways through which they function and their overall importance in eliciting cystitis. In addition, we are beginning to explore the similarities and differences in the underlying basic biology between chemical cystitis and mechanical and bacterial cystitis.
Cystitis is, by definition, an inflammatory response. In a translational approach we have been exploring a possible beneficial role for a novel anti-inflammatory agent, the statins, in treating this condition. Statins are a class of highly-tolerated FDA-approved HMG CoA reductase inhibitors that are widely used as anti-cholesterol drugs. However, statins also possess anti-inflammatory effects that appear independent of their cholesterol lowering roles. We are currently testing the ability of these drugs to prevent or reduce the detrimental effects of CP on the bladder.
Another translational area of research in the laboratory focuses on controlling, and speeding the recovery of, bladder function following spinal cord injury (SCI). While SCI clearly effects innervations to the bladder, inflammation also plays an important role. Dr. Inderjit Singh in Pediatrics has identified a potential uroprotective effect of statins in SCI and, in collaboration with Dr. Singh, we have begun delineating the cellular/molecular and physiological benefits of this drug on the bladder.
An additional collaborative project is with Dr. Xuejun Wen of Clemson University (part of the Clemson-MUSC Joint Bioengineering Program) investigating bioengineered coating for urinary catheters that prevent the formation of biofilms. Such coatings could significantly reduce the occurrence of nosocomial UTIs (i.e. hospital acquired bacterial cystitis). Finally, we are also collaborating with Dr. Georgi Petkov from the University of South Carolina to explore the role of ion channels in bladder function.