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Functional Omics Approach to Identify Overlapping and Unique Pain Pathways

June 2019 

Achim Kless, John Bothmer
Grünenthal Innovation, Translational Science and Intelligence

The broad diversity of chronic pain conditions requires a better understanding of the underlying pathophysiologies, which can be described through disease pathways.1,2 The aim of this article is to describe how we have generated an integrated disease pathway map for pain that contains the major pathophysiological components, (including involved cell types, miRNA and inflammatory regulations) that allow us to identify overlapping and unique pathways for disease understanding and identification of novel therapeutic interventions.3

To kick off this undertaking, we identified several key questions that have guided us to integrate the available information and build a big pathway map for pain. However, omics data generated from diverse study types need to be annotated and validated. Since most of the published works present a vast number of pathways, it is difficult to extract relevant key pathways for therapeutic intervention out of unstructured data. Therefore, a simple comprehensive review of available literature results is necessary.

The concept of mapping disease pain pathways has led to many questions: are there any common or unique indications in specific pathways? Can we separate pain indications by such pathways on the molecular level? Do key pathways enhance our view of disease understanding regarding involved pathophysiologies? Finally, can we visualise findings in a simple way so that the design of new biomarkers, drug repurposing and novel targets can be derived? In order to start answering these questions, we started to extract and integrate omics data from the literature on eight relevant pain indications that cover a large part of known pathophysiologies (Figure 1).


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