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New Target and Drug Candidates for Alleviating Chronic Pain

Project description

Insensitive mice may elucidate a path to relief for chronic pain

Estimates suggest that at least one in five people globally suffer from chronic pain. Aside from impairing a person's ability to perform activities of daily living, chronic pain can lead to a chronic stress reaction. This can increase blood pressure and heart rate and result in other harmful effects on health including reduced immunity to illnesses and diseases. Knockdown of a specific gene in mice leads to reduced sensitivity to pain, and researchers have now identified several existing drugs that could mimic this effect. EU funding of the ChronicPain project is helping these researchers exploit their discovery, using it to test approved and candidate drugs on the path to relief for millions of people suffering with chronic pain.

Objective

Chronic pain is one of the most significant unmet medical needs and health burdens in society today. This is due to limited analgesic efficacy of existing drugs, coupled with adverse side effects, and the development of tolerance over time. Moreover, patients may develop dependence on commonly prescribed opiate-based analgesics, with negative consequences and greatly increased societal costs. Hence there is a pressing need for new targets for drug development and new drug candidates to target chronic pain.

During the course of our recently completed ERC grant we screened a number of mouse mutants for sensory neuron phenotypes that might arise from perturbation of neuron growth control mechanisms. We discovered an unexpected phenotype of reduced pain sensitivity in an importin knockout mouse line. Most strikingly, acute knockdown of this specific importin gene had an ameliorating effect in the chronic stage of a neuropathic pain model. Screening for drugs that might mimic this effect lead to the identification of a number of approved drugs that are candidates for repositioning as analgesics.

In this PoC we will carry out the following objectives: (1) file for IP protection on the new pain drug target and the initially identified candidate analgesics; (2) validate the new drug target and drug candidates in models of neuropathic and/or chemotherapy-induced chronic pain; (3) devise an HTS-compatible assay for future screening of additional drug leads for chronic pain; and (4) carry out additional IP protection and pre-clinical validation steps to maximize the commercialization potential of this discovery.

Host institution

WEIZMANN INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE
Net EU contribution
€ 150 000,00
Address
HERZL STREET 234
7610001 Rehovot
Israel

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Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
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Total cost
No data

Beneficiaries (1)