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New Drugs for Pain

This article was originally published in Start Up

Executive Summary

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.

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Myelos Corp.

Myelos Corp. was applying its novel derivatives of neurotrophic factor prosaposin to the difficult problem of nerve damage caused by diabetes and other diseases, when it discovered, through serendipity, the pain-relieving potential of its compound.

EpiCept Corp.

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.

Advanced Targeting Systems

Chronic pain is often difficult to pinpoint--witness the strange phenomenon of phantom limb pain, where patients continue to feel pain years after an amputation. Advanced Targeting Systems believes it can target a toxin known as saporin to the neurons that express substance P receptors, to permanently knock out chronic pain while leaving useful pain sensation intact.

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