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European Training Network on Bone Pain

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - BonePain (European Training Network on Bone Pain)

Reporting period: 2017-01-01 to 2018-12-31

Musculoskeletal disorders are the second greatest cause of disability in the world, and a large part of the disability is due to bone pain. In Europe 20-30% of adults are affected at any one time by musculoskeletal pain such as arthritis pain, lower back pain, pain from osteoporotic fractures and bone metastasis. An intensified effort is warranted to overcome this huge societal challenge by elucidating the mechanisms of musculoskeletal pain and providing better treatment. To address this societal challenge and the strong innovation potential, the BonePain training network has created the first European platform to promote frontline research, innovation and education within bone pain. The network consisted of 5 academic and 2 industrial beneficiaries as well as 1 industrial partner and 2 academic partners, all committed to creating an outstanding training program for early stage researchers to elucidate the mechanisms of bone pain and develop new medicines.

The overall objectives of the BonePain training network were to train early stage researchers to become highly skilled and innovative researchers and provide them with expertise that will enable them to gain high level employment both in academia and industry. Through integrated research projects they would address key questions related to bone pain and push forward the field towards better treatment for the millions of Europeans suffering from bone pain.
Thirteen early stage researchers were recruited and enrolled as PhD students at universities in London, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Utrecht. A well-functioning network was created with strong collaborative bonds across disciplines and between academia and industry. In their internet forum and at network meetings and other meetings the early stage researchers interacted and shared advice and methodologies. In their research they investigated the underlying mechanisms and potential new treatments of bone pain from cancer, arthritis, and fracture. Major results concern the interaction of the immune system and the nervous system in inflammatory arthritis; development of new research models; determining the molecular identity of bone sensory nerves; identifying central mechanisms involved in cancer-induced bone pain and osteoarthritic pain; the implementation of a biobank of cancer-infiltrated human bone samples; use of systemic biomarkers in painful osteoarthritis; and identification of several new targets for the treatment of bone-related pain in arthritis and cancer. The results are being exploited through further research and evaluated for commercial exploitation.

The early stage researchers have participated in a range of training activities. At the network meetings they have presented their results and chaired sessions, and profited from scientific discussions with the principal investigators and other senior scientists, and they have had workshops on research specific subjects and on presentation skills. At our industrial participants they have attended workshops on biomarkers and on drug discovery and development. They have been exposed to successful scientists in academia and industry and discussed their individual career paths. They have also all trained through secondments with academic and industrial beneficiaries and partners in the BonePain network. In addition, the early stage researchers have participated in courses covering research subjects as well as transferable skills.

The early stage researchers have disseminated their research results both to the scientific community and to the general public. They have given oral presentations and poster presentations at national and international scientific meetings and have published the results of their studies. So far 14 papers have been published in scientific journals such as Arthritis and Rheumatology and PAIN, and many more manuscripts are submitted for publication. The early stage researchers have engaged in outreach activities to the general public. They have participated in science fairs, culture nights and a rock festival with interactive education on bone pain. The ESRs have also established contacts with patients with bone pain through patient organizations in Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK. The ESRs have conducted video or written interviews with the patients to share their experiences of living with bone pain. The interviews will be posted on the BonePain webpage (www.bonepain.eu). The aim is to raise awareness of the impact pain has on patients suffering from skeletal disorders such as osteoarthritis, cancer in the bone and rare bone disorders.
In the BonePain network the early stage researchers received an interdisciplinary, state-of-the-art and innovative training from the industrial participants and from some of the foremost bone and pain researchers in Europe. With their training, research and network they are equipped for the next stages of theirs careers. The BonePain network has addressed important challenges of bone pain research and innovation, and promoted interactions between bone researchers and neuroscientists, and it has raised the awareness in the scientific and clinical communities of the impact of bone pain on the patients and the importance of a strong research and innovation effort. BonePain has created a sustainable foundation for a continued effort to combat bone pain and set the stage for years to come.
BonePain Network