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Partnerships &

Together, we will solve pain

At Grünenthal, we work closely with a number of partners to ensure that we are able to deliver the innovative pain solutions that our patients need. Working together, we want to share and build on our own expertise to remain at the forefront and keep pushing forward the worldwide fight against pain.


We use our resources and expertise to get access to funds for collaborative cutting‑edge pain research and translate this to improved, real-world outcomes.

Public-Private Partnerships

We work with the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 (IMI2), the world’s biggest public-private partnership for health, as co-leaders of the latest pain initiative.

One-to-One Collaborations

23andMe: Understanding the genetics of pain to identify new treatments for patients

Using DNA to understand why we react differently to pain.

We use our resources and expertise to get access to funds for collaborative cutting-edge pain research and translate this to improved, real-world outcomes.

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We work with the world’s biggest public-private partnership organisation in the life sciences as co-leaders of the latest pain initiative.

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The genetics of pain; helping to identify new treatments for patients.

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We are always looking for novel ways to tackle today’s challenges in health and wellbeing and part of our corporate responsibility is to provide grants to facilitate cutting-edge scientific research. We are involved in three regional projects co-funded by the EU and North Rhine Westphalia under a lead market competition scheme (‘Leitmarktwettbewerb.NRW’) to help advance the science behind effective pain therapies.

Predicting the efficacy of the next-generation of pain medicines

Innovative predictive test systems for identification of curative analgesics (NeuRoWeg)

This project aims at generating predictive research approaches for the development of disease-modifying drugs, including establishing human nociceptor and glia cultures derived from appropriately induced pluripotent stem cells, as well as in-depth pathway analysis in diabetic neuropathic pain.

Visualising binding of a drug to two targets at once

Positron-emission tomography (PET) ligands to assess dual modes of action of novel analgesics (Dual2PET)

This project is designed to demonstrate for the first time that PET imaging can give insights into simultaneous occupancies of two distinct targets by a single drug. The project will develop a novel PET tracer of a potassium channel (Kv7) plus 18-kDa translocator protein (TSPO) activator, and compare it with a standard TSPO PET ligand in animals. It will also identify allosteric modulators of μ-opioid plus nociceptin/orphanin FQ receptors.

Leading the science - pain biomarkers

Imaging pain using a PET tracer (PAIN-Vis)

This project aims to validate an objective and aetiology-based pain biomarker in humans to improve diagnosis and stratification of patients. The project will validate the PET-tracer in animal pain models and in pain patients.

Supporting the next generation of pain researchers

BonePain: The Innovative Training Networks of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA-ITN)

Part of the Horizon 2020 framework funded by the EU, this project aims to generate skills, training and career development for 13 PhD students to foster scientific expertise in bone pain. This project began in late 2015, and we are currently providing the supervision of one PhD student researching the role of the nociceptin/orphanin FQ system in an animal model of bone cancer pain.

The Pain Group of the IMI2 unites European pharmaceutical companies dedicated to better understand, treat and manage pain. The framework of the public-private partnership enables a portfolio of pain projects addressing a broad spectrum of relevant challenges together with the best skilled public consortia of expert academics, hospitals, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and patient groups.

The IMI is a public-private partnership between the EU and EFPIA (European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations) companies and is working to improve health by speeding up the development of, and patient access to, the next generation of medicines, particularly in areas of unmet medical and social need.

Deciphering pain

Paving the way for safe, effective treatments

The first collaborative project with the IMI2 started in April 2017, with the aim of increasing our knowledge of pain targets and pathways to generate predictive research approaches for the discovery of disease-modifying analgesics. The Modelling Neuron-Glia Networks into a Drug Discovery Platform for Pain Efficacious Treatments (NGN-PET) project will, over the course of 3 years, investigate neuron-glia interactions by developing authentic cellular (co-culture) assays using neuronal and glial cell types derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC).

Patient engagement in research and health system decision-making processes

PARADIGM: Patients Active in Research and Dialogues for an Improved Generation of Medicines

The public-private partnership PARADIGM started in March 2018 and aims to establish best practice for effective and meaningful engagement of patients in the life cycle of medicines for better health outcomes.

Improving the care of acute and chronic pain patients

Starting soon

We are currently planning a second pain project that seeks to improve the care of patients suffering from acute or chronic pain, which will start in 2018. We look forward to the ground-breaking results from these and other IMI2-supported pain projects in the years to come.

Creating a network of partnerships

Future developments

In addition, Grünenthal will join other IMI2 projects to establish networks of specialists starting in 2018 or 2019: the ‘European Screening Center Unique Library of Attractive Biology’ (ESCulab), and ‘Linking digital assessment of mobility to clinical endpoints to drive regulatory acceptance and clinical practice’.

In May 2017, we decided together with 23andMe, Inc. to conduct a joint study in 20,000 participants from the US in order to better understand genetic influences on pain. This study will be one of the largest of its kind to combine data on genetics and response to pain. The study will ask eligible genotyped customers to provide information about their experience with pain via online surveys. Participants will also be asked to self-administer the Cold Pressor Test to determine pain tolerance. The combined data set of survey answers and genetic information will provide insights into the different individual perceptions of pain, the different pathways that are involved, and how best to manage pain with more targeted treatments.

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KU Leuven: Research collaboration for the development of novel non-opioid drug candidates

TRP ion channels: a novel, innovative and potentially pivotal target for non-opioid pain management

In April 2018, Grünenthal entered into a research collaboration with the Katholieke Universiteit (KU) Leuven's Centre for Drug Design and Discovery (CD3) and the Laboratory of Ion Channel Research (LICR). The partnership builds on lead compounds jointly developed by the CD3 and LICR, as well as on the extensive knowledge of Thomas Voets (LICR) and Joris Vriens (LICR), leading experts in the field of TRP ion channels, who have identified a novel, innovative and potentially pivotal target for non-opioid pain management.

"We are delighted to be part of this collaboration. It is a perfect example of an integrated approach that comprises the capabilities of the academic environment, early drug discovery centres and the pharmaceutical industry to deliver innovative solutions for unmet patient needs", Klaus-Dieter Langner, Chief Scientific Officer Grünenthal explains. "To leverage the latest approaches in pain research, Grünenthal is strongly committed to initiate close collaborations with the scientific community on early stage R&D projects."

Latest Updates

Convergences in PP

Convergences in Pelvi-Perineal Pain is a society that aims to promote knowledge about chronic perineal pain. Over the 2-day programme of this society’s 2018 Congress in Brussels, there were many insightful talks by some of the top researchers and clinicians in this field, an overview of these are discussed in this article.

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Chronic overlapping pain conditions

In this article by Christin Veasley, Co-Founder & Director of Chronic Pain Research Alliance, the emergence, symptoms, mechanisms and unmet needs of chronic overlapping pain conditions is discussed. Christin hopes to increase the awareness of the issues around chronic pain conditions in America.

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Re-defining pain through patient-inspired R&D

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Exploring the genome for novel pain targets

There exists significant unmet need for treatments that are targeted to the many underlying mechanisms that cause pain to arise. The genetic study of pain has already revealed some promising targets and it is hoped that research will translate into the development of targeted drugs and the advent of precision medicine in pain. This article summarises current approaches to the genetic study of pain and highlights Grünenthal’s ongoing research in this area.

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Intractable and refractory pain

The lack of a clear and consistent definition for chronic neuropathic intractable or refractory pain is one of the main barriers to effective management of these conditions. In this article we have looked into the current thinking of what constitutes ‘refractory’ or ‘intractable’ pain, and the implications that the subtle differences between these words have on the management of these patients.

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