CORDIS - EU research results

A European Training Network to Combat Bone Pain

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - BonePainII (A European Training Network to Combat Bone Pain)

Reporting period: 2021-01-01 to 2022-12-31

Musculoskeletal pain affects the quality of life of millions and represents a major unmet medical need and a huge socio-economic challenge. It is a major cause of loss of earnings and has huge health care costs. In the BonePainII network, we focused on the painful disorders osteoarthritis, cancer in the bone, osteoporotic fractures, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibrous dysplasia, a rare bone disease. In a strong interdisciplinary and integrated effort across sectors, we trained a new generation of 15 creative, entrepreneurial and innovative early stages researchers. The overall objective was in three inter-related and integrated work packages to provide novel technologies and knowledge to enable drug discovery in bone pain.
Drug discovery in bone pain has been hampered by 1) a lack of specialized technological platforms; 2) a lack of appropriate animal models; 3) poor understanding of the biology; and 4) by the interdisciplinarity of the subject area. In the BonePainII project, we worked in a complementary, interdisciplinary and innovative manner to address these challenges. The project consisted of three inter-related work packages. In WP1, we developed advanced in vitro platforms (advanced microfluidics and organ-on-chip) and high throughput techniques to investigate the interplay between the sensory neurons and a pathological bone microenvironment. In WP2, we analysed in vivo models of the painful bone disorders fibrous dysplasia, osteoporotic fracture, osteoarthritis and metastatic bone disease from breast cancer. We identified pain-related behaviors, validated models with clinical gold standard drugs and elucidated peripheral and central nociceptive mechanisms. In WP3, we used cutting edge technologies to identify novel molecular targets and cellular mechanisms, which have significant impact on the development and/or maintenance of bone pain in arthritis and in cancer. In conclusion, the BonePainII project has resulted in novel technologies, validated animal models for drug discovery, and identified novel mechanisms underlying bone pain across a range of painful bone diseases and with the potential to lead to new therapeutics for the treatment of bone pain. The knowledge and results generated in BonePainII have been disseminated via scientific publications, presentations at seminars, workshops and conferences, in open symposia, and to the general public via outreach activities.
In the BonePainII network we developed new technologies; identified novel targets, and thus paved the way for new therapeutic options to combat bone pain. Bone pain tends to increase with age, and as the lifespan of individuals is increasing and skeletal health is decreasing due to lifestyle factors such as obesity, the burden of bone pain on individuals and society is expected to further increase in the coming decades. Therefore, there is a strong need for highly skilled researchers within bone pain, and to make the foundation for novel therapies for this dominating and incapacitating symptom of musculoskeletal disorders. The BonePainII project will give rise to new business opportunities: bone pain is an unmet medical need and the BonePainII project has resulted in novel technologies and targets, which will be exploited further both by the companies involved in BonePainII and by the academic participants.