Dr. Larauche and Sentia Medical Sciences, Inc. (La Jolla, CA) were awarded a $2 million two-year, NIH SBIR Phase II grant, through the NIH NIDDK institute, to investigate and validate the use of non-selective peripherally-restricted CRF receptor antagonists (astressins) to target visceral pain in IBS patients. The grant follows a six-month SBIR Phase I grant awarded in June 2018 to the same team. Dr. Larauche will be responsible for the preclinical studies and testing the efficacy of the astressin drug candidates in both prophylactic and therapeutic modalities in rodent models of chronic IBS. Drs. Yvette Taché and Lin Chang from the UCLA Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases are also involved in the study.
The ability to modulate the electrical signals transmitted by peripheral nerves — the sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves that connect the brain to the rest of the body, controlling the function of each organ — could provide the key to a powerful new class of treatments for many intractable diseases and conditions, including GI disorders. The UCLA Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases is currently part of an unprecedented international effort to do just that.
A National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded consortium headed by Yvette Taché, PhD, distinguished professor in the division, has completed the first year of a three-year, $7.5 million OT2 grant whose objective is to provide the first comprehensive and detailed structural and functional mapping of the nervous system of the colon in humans and the pig — a large animal model with structural and physiological similarities to humans. The grant is part of NIH’s Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions (SPARC) program, which is expected to provide approximately $238 million in funding over a five-year period in an effort to map the body’s electrical wiring and develop devices that will allow for the therapeutic stimulation of those nerves. Read full article >
For more than three decades, Yvette Taché, PhD, has been a leader in unraveling the complex brain-gut interactions that occur when stress leads to gastrointestinal disorders, paving the way for new treatments. Now, Dr. Taché's pioneering work has been recognized with the highest honor for scientific achievement given to a researcher or clinician by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Dr. Taché, a professor in the UCLA Division of Digestive Diseases since 1982, was named winner of the 2014 William S. Middleton Award, which honors senior Veterans Health Administration investigators who have achieved international acclaim for accomplishments in areas of prime importance to the VA's research mission. Dr. Taché is the first female recipient of the Middleton Award since 1960.
"As basic scientists, we are always thinking about how our discoveries might be translated into a better understanding of a disease and improved treatments," says Dr. Taché, associate director of the CURE: Digestive Diseases Research Center at UCLA and co-director of the Center for Neurobiology of Stress & Women's Health. "To have the VA recognize that this experimental work will have implications on the medical needs of the veteran population is very gratifying."
Brain-gut interaction was a new field when Dr. Taché arrived at UCLA more than three decades ago, but through their efforts in the laboratory, she and her colleagues contributed to a new understanding of the complex brain-gut interactions that occur when stress leads to gut dysfunction. Dr. Taché's group was among the first to demonstrate the role of peptides in brain-gut interactions, and her group was the first to establish the importance of corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) in stress-related gut function alterations - laying the foundation for the current interest in modulating this pathway as potential therapeutic venue for functional diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome.
Dr. Taché's interest in the mechanisms by which stress contributes to gut dysfunction is rooted in her PhD training at the University of Montreal, where she worked in an internationally renowned neuro-endocrinology laboratory under the mentorship of Dr. Hans Selye, who coined the term "stress" and conducted pioneering research showing its consequences on the body, including the stomach.
"In recent years the study of brain-gut interactions has emerged as an important aspect of gastroenterology research," Dr. Taché says. "I am hopeful that the recognition through this award will encourage young researchers to continue to build on our findings."