Neuropathic pain, anxiety and depression: A recent survey of over 45,000 people in 16 countries revealed that almost 1 in 5 of the European population suffers moderate or severe pain persisting for more than 6 months. The prevalence of chronic pain increases dramatically with age and constitutes a significant pool of human suffering. The present ability to treat chronic pain is limited, as the currently available medicines provide no cure and give little relief. PharmNovo’s major project is focused on the treatment of chronic pain via the development of very selective biased agonists of the delta opioid receptors, PN6047, and are now moving towards phase I clinical trials.

Two awards have been given to PharmNovo to establish a new and novel treatment agenda for the use of our novel biased and selective delta agonists:

1/ To develop a deeper understanding of biased agonist for the use of chronic pain treatment; this work is funded by the UK Medical Research Council to run over three years together with the Univerisity of Bristol. 2/The second project is an EU Marie-Curie project investigating formulations of our novel delta agonists together with the University of Nottingham.

Both fundings are company-academic collaborations.

Migraine and osteoarthritis: Calcitonin Gene Related Peptide (CGRP) is a compelling pharmacological target in any disease which involves abnormal activation of sensory nerves. Osteoarthritis (OA) and migraine are two such diseases for which our projects aim to provide therapies. OA affects approximately 50 million people in Europe (8% male, 18% female) and costs the European economy an estimated £16 billion each year. More than 8.5 million people in the UK have painful OA in one or both knees. Prevalence increases with age with 1 in 5 adults aged 50–59 to almost 1 in every 2 adults aged 80+ affected. Pain is the dominant symptom in OA. Existing pharmacological treatments have inadequate efficacy or risk serious side effects and PharmNovo is currently developing novel small CGRP peptide analogues as antagonists for the CGRP receptor system.

This project is funded by a Biomedical Catalyst award to PharmNovo UK Ltd and the School of Pharmacy at Liverpool John Moores University jointly.

Neurokinin (NK1) receptors recognize neuropepides  such as Substance P and other tachykinins that are associated with the transmission of stress signals and pain,  smooth muscle contraction and inflammation. NK1receptor antagonists have been studied in migraine, emesis and psychiatric disorders including anxiety and depression. Other diseases in which the NK1 receptor system is involved include asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and gastrointestinal disorders. Existing antagonists, such as aprepitant, suffer from sub-optimal pharmacokinetic properties and PharmNovo is currently developing slowly dissociating antagonists to address this deficit.

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