This article was originally published in Start Up
Pain is mysteriously complex, but EpiCept has a simple approach that thwarts deep pain. By applying topical anesthetics to the surface of the skin in a proprietary patch, EpiCept has been able to relieve migraines and deep pain in the lower back. The company is also targeting surgical pain and neuropathic pain.
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Australia's Spinifex Pharmaceuticals has identified a compound that it believes represents an entirely new mechanism of action for neuropathic pain. Its lead agent is a G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) antagonist, in Phase I trials for post-herpetic neuralgia. Although the GPCR class is one of the most popular drug targets across the industry, Spinifex claims that the GPCR it's focused on is not commonly associated with pain research.
Aestus Therapeutics is using its bioinformatics platform to hunt down previously unsuspected associations between validated drug targets and neurological disease, to seek out compounds relevant to that target; ideally candidates that got as far as Phase II. The company claims to have identified half a dozen pathways not previously linked to neuropathic pain-such as the glycolysis pathway.
Spectacular failures in stroke and neurodegenerative diseases have given drug developers a black eye, but along the way, the insights they've gleaned in neurobiology have revealed new targets for pain. Unfortunately, the targets keep moving.