Title of proposed idea: Venture Fund for Research and Development of New Medications to Treat Chronic Pain (see “NIH Award Strategies” in Innovation Brainstorm ideas)
Nominator: NIH Institutes/Centers
Major obstacle/challenge to overcome: Chronic pain, which affects 116 million Americans and is a significant public health burden, is not adequately managed by current therapies. Although opiates are the most commonly prescribed medications to treat chronic pain conditions (e.g. cancer pain), their use pose important clinical risks such as abuse liability, diversion, and overdose. Other types of chronic pain (e.g., neuropathic pain caused by diabetes) are not well managed by either opiates or other approved agents (e.g., antidepressants). Currently, a significant amount of dollars is being invested in testing medications to treat chronic pain but the results of the studies have not yielded any significant progress in the treatment of this condition. There is an urgent need to conduct research that helps to understand the neurobiological mechanisms of chronic pain, which in turn will help to identify new targets and thus new compounds to treat this condition.
Unfortunately, it has been challenging to develop collaborations and much more to share resources among industry, academia, and government investigators to advance the study of chronic pain. A concerted and synergistic approach among those three groups will greatly advance the understanding and management of chronic pain. It is expected that the development of a venture fund for research and development will facilitate the collaboration among industry, academia, and government which will result in the discovery of new targets and the development of new medications to treat this condition.
The purpose of this program is to support eligible institutions that enter into a joint venture or collaboration with other entities which concomitantly provides support in the form of funds or resources to conduct research to advance the development of medications to treat chronic pain.
Research may focus on the discovery of new potential therapeutic targets, new molecules with action on those targets, as well as Phase I safety/tolerability studies, single or multisite Phase II or III studies, or translational projects.
Emerging scientific opportunity ripe for Common Fund investment: Currently, there are multiple individual efforts from industry, academia and government to advance the knowledge of the mechanisms of pain as well as the discovery and development of new pharmacotherapies; however, most of those efforts are not coming to fruition because of the lack of a coordinated and synergistic approach. This initiative is very timely because it aims at channeling all those efforts and making them more synergistic in achieving an ultimate goal of having safer and more effective medications to treat chronic pain
Common Fund investment that could accelerate scientific progress in this field:
It is expected that the identification and validation of novel targets associated with chronic pain can lead to novel and effective therapies. A pilot phase is proposed that if successful would go on to a therapeutics development phase to be done in collaboration with private sector partners.
Identification and validation of new therapeutic targets
Therapeutics Development Phase:
Identification of bioactive compounds for the new targets identified during the pilot phase
Early stage clinical trials
Potential impact of Common Fund investment:
The ability to effectively treat chronic pain conditions will impact more than 116 million Americans. In addition, identifying and validating chronic pain targets – may also lead to diagnostic tests that may prevent or delay the onset of chronic pain conditions.