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Numerous Fibromyalgia Grants Backed by NIAMS

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By News release • • April 10, 2000

Eight new fibromyalgia research grants have been funded by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The grants, totaling more than $1.34 million, include both basic and clinical research studies on the disease. In addition, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) announced funding of an award. Several other fibromyalgia grant awards, which should bring the new NIH fibromyalgia grant total past the $2.6 million mark, are pending.

"We are pleased that there was such an overwhelming response from the research community to our multi-institute request for fibromyalgia applications," said NIAMS Director Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D. "These new grants should help us make significant inroads into a disease that causes so much pain, suffering and lost productivity in so many people."

Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder characterized by musculoskeletal pain, fatigue and multiple tender points. Tenderness occurs in precise, localized areas, particularly in the neck, spine, shoulders and hips. People with this disorder may also experience sleep disturbances, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome and headaches. The cause of fibromyalgia is unknown.
The new NIAMS-funded studies include:

•Behavioral Insomnia Therapy for Fibromyalgia Patients, Jack D. Edinger, Ph.D., Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C. This prospective, randomized clinical trial will test whether cognitive behavioral therapy will improve insomnia in patients with fibromyalgia.

•Autonomic Stress-Reactivity in Fibromyalgia, Akiko Okifuji, Ph.D., University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle. The relationship between stress-reactivity and pain sensitivity in fibromyalgia patients will be examined and compared to that of patients with temporomandibular disorder (who have localized pain) and pain-free people.

•Employment and Health Status Among Women With Fibromyalgia, Susan T. Reisine, Ph.D., University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington. This project will explore the relationship among paid work, family work, daily stress and psychological health among women with fibromyalgia.

•Noradrenergic Dysfunction: A Model of Fibromyalgia Pain, Luc Jasmin, M.D., Ph.D., Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. The goal of this project is to develop a rat model of fibromyalgia pain by manipulating the release of substance P, a chemical involved in the transmission of pain signals via the nervous system. (Co-funded by NIH's Office of Research on Women's Health [ORWH].)

•Chronic Low Back Pain as a Model of Fibromyalgia, Daniel J. Clauw, M.D., Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, D.C. This study will examine the relationship of pain sensitivity to clinical outcome and physiological and psychosocial factors in both fibromyalgia and low back pain.

•Exercise-Induced Changes in HPA Activity in FMS, Patricia A. Deuster, Ph.D., M.P.H., Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, M.D. This clinical project will attempt to determine whether aerobic exercise benefits patients with fibromyalgia by enhancing the hypothalamic stimulus of pituitary and adrenal gland function.

•Outcomes in Young Women With Fibromyalgia, Carol S. Burckhardt, Ph.D., Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland. This pilot project will develop a model to plan early intervention strategies that minimize disabilities and maximize health status in young women with fibromyalgia.

• A Controlled Family Study in Patients With Fibromyalgia, Lesley M. Arnold, M.D., University of Cincinnati (Ohio) College of Medicine. This study will determine the prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, chronic fatigue syndrome and mood disorders in first-degree relatives of patients with fibromyalgia. It will explore whether a common risk factor or pathophysiologic mechanism exists among affected family members. The study will compare the results with those obtained in families of people with rheumatoid arthritis.
The new NIDCR-funded study consists of:

•FMS, Depression, and Myofascial Pain, Karen G. Raphael, Ph.D., University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Newark. This project explores the cause and nature of the association of fibromyalgia and temporomandibular disorders with myofascial pain syndrome. Temporomandibular disorders are associated with chronic pain in the temporomandibular (jaw) joint and the muscles of mastication (chewing).

The award of these grants is the result of a special solicitation for research applications on fibromyalgia. Applications were peer reviewed and selected for funding based on scientific merit and program balance. In addition to NIAMS, other sponsors of the solicitation included the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research and three other components of the National Institutes of Health: ORWH, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research.

Approximately 3.7 million persons aged 18 and older in the United States have fibromyalgia. It primarily occurs in women of childbearing age, but children, the elderly, and men may also be affected. NIAMS, the major federal organization supporting research on the disease, actively encourages and supports a variety of research studies and sets up scientific workshops and other collaborative efforts with a variety of organizations.

Source: The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

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