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Selected peptides as drug candidates directed to pain and neurodegeneration

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Taking the sting out of chronic disease

In line with an ageing population, the incidence of age-related illnesses, cancer, osteoarthritis and diabetes is on the rise. New analgesic and neuroprotective drugs could prevent the ravages of pain in osteoarthritis and cancer as well as further deterioration in diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in five people worldwide suffer moderate to severe chronic pain. Two of the partners in the EU-funded project 'Selected peptides as drug candidates directed to pain and neurodegeneration' (Pep2brain) have isolated a small molecule, BLV200703/4showing potential for development into a new pain reliever after modification and optimisation. Pep2brain is a multidisciplinary project whose synergy can take the BLV200703/4 peptide or one of its derivatives to pre-clinical stage. Together with a company that screens potential pharmacological lead molecules, the academic expertise of universities and a leading expert in medicinal chemistry, Pep2brain is working towards creating variants of the molecule for further testing. Pre-clinical trials will be performed to yield molecules with the necessary stability, efficacy and low toxicity demanded by drug regulatory bodies and the consumer. Mid-way in the project term, the results have so far proved to be promising. Efficacy of the starting drug lead has been shown to be satisfactory and the toxicity profile is very encouraging. Dissemination of information regarding the new painkiller has been wide and also covers non-technical audiences. Explaining the molecular and physiological basis of pain, incorporates a section on Pep2brain. Other media used include radio and the press as well as seminars in several European universities and schools. The next step is to strengthen research activity for the future. Consortium members intend to expand on their medicinal chemistry activity and develop early toxicology testing facilities.

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