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.
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.
23andMe: Understanding the genetics of pain to identify new treatments for patients
Using DNA to understand why we react differently to pain.
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.
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
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
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.
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."
Transient receptor potential (TRP) ion channels are involved in nociception and play roles in several types of pain, including inflammatory pain, neuropathic pain and visceral pain. Pharmacological modulation of TRP channels may provide an alternative to opioid- or NSAID-based pain treatments. Here we review developments in this promising approach to pain management.
Placebo Effect and Pain - Part 2
In the second instalment of this 2-part article, we consider how researchers designing clinical trials for pain management can adapt their trial methodologies to take account of the placebo response. Various options to reduce the likelihood of ‘false negative’ trial outcomes when investigating novel options for chronic pain are proposed.