Ganglia Bank

Research into the treatment of post-herpetic neuralgia, or PHN, a painful, chronic complication of shingles, is at a critical juncture. Recent studies have demonstrated the efficacy of several therapeutic options in the relief of PHN pain. However, the effectiveness of these edications varies widely among patients and some have significant side-effects. In order to identify potential new treatments for PHN, scientists need to better understand its causes. But to do this, they need to study normal and affected autopsy human sensory tissue, although such tissue is very difficult to obtain.

To help further research in this area, the VZV Research Foundation approached The F.M. Kirby Foundation, Inc. with an underwriting proposal for the establishment of a tissue bank. Its mission: to secure human dorsal root ganglia for study by researchers. In turn, The Kirby Foundation, which has a long history of support for scientific research, particularly in the area of VZV infections, agreed to provide the seed money for this initiative.

This generous grant will make it possible for the VZV Research Foundation to establish the VZVRF Ganglia Bank this fall at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. The bank will be directed by VZVRF Scientific Advisory Board Chair Anne A. Gershon, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and Paula Annunziato, M.D., Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Columbia. Anne Louise Oaklander, M.D., Ph.D., of Harvard Medical School, who was instrumental in developing the program, will serve as a consultant.

Initial goals for the STB include: formation of a Scientific Advisory Board; liaison with New York City-area hospitals' pathology departments; and the securing of additional funding for Year 2 and beyond.

"I encourage the VZV Research Foundation to work towards the establishment of a specialized bank of human ganglion, brain and perhaps other tissues, as they would greatly facilitate studies of VZV infection and latency. In my own work on VZV latency for the past 15 years, I have had to rely on complex and inconsistent means of acquiring human tissues from autopsies. Throughout all of these years, I have not been able to accrue tissues from patients with active VZV infection at the time of death. Should the Foundation succeed in securing funding for the development of a tissue bank for VZV research, my work and that of many of my colleagues might move far more quickly."

Excerpt of letter from:
Stephen E. Straus, M.D.
Chief, Laboratory of Clinical Investigation
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH)



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