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The London Pain Consortium making a difference
Europain consortium receives EU and industry funding and begins five year research into better treatments for chronic pain Europain, a public-private consortium funded by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), announced today the launch of a five-year research project to understand and improve treatment of chronic pain. The project will receive 6M€ from the IMI as well as 12.5M€ in kind contribution from the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) over the coming five years.

One in five adults suffers from chronic pain. This constitutes a major cause of long-term sick leave and forced early retirement, placing a great financial burden on both individuals and healthcare systems. Despite extensive research programmes by biopharmaceutical companies and academia, there remains a need for treatments that are more effective and with fewer side-effects.

Europain has established an international team of leading researchers and clinicians from both academia and industry to undertake multidisciplinary translational research. This team aims to increase the understanding of chronic pain mechanisms, help to develop novel analgesics, and develop better biomarkers for pain. Their ultimate goal is to improve the lives of people suffering from chronic pain.

During the five-year project, Europain will undertake a large number of preclinical and clinical studies. The program will be delivered through collaboration between laboratories in the Europain network, sharing resources to improve the value derived from the budget. Results will be made public during and after the project, ensuring that the knowledge created can be widely applied to the development of better therapies for patients suffering from chronic pain.

King’s College London, the managing entity of Europain and the academic lead institution will contribute to both the pre-clinical and clinical aspects of the project. One role will be to study the expression of potential pain mediators in both animal models of pain and samples from patients suffering from chronic pain. The role of novel pain mediators will then be investigated using an array of techniques ranging from cell culture to quantitative sensory testing in humans.

Professor Steve McMahon, who along with Dr Dave Bennett will be running the project at King’s, comments: ‘There are some big questions facing the pain field at the moment and this consortium, drawing on the skills and expertise of both academia and industry, is in a unique position to address them’.

The consortium network involves scientists representing 12 renowned European Universities: King’s College London (Academic lead), University College London, Imperial College London, the University of Oxford, the Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, the Medical Faculty Mannheim/Heidelberg University, the Technische Universität München, the Goethe University of Frankfurt, the BG University Hospital Bergmannsheil/Ruhr University Bochum, the University Hospitals of Aarhus, Rigshospitalet Copenhagen, University of Southern Denmark, the SME Neuroscience Technologies from Barcelona, and the research resources and expertise of Europe’s most active pharmaceutical companies working in the field of analgesics, including AstraZeneca (co-ordinator), Boehringer-Ingelheim, Eli Lilly, Esteve, Pfizer, Sanofi-Aventis, UCB Pharma.

About the Innovative Medicines Initiative

IMI is a unique Public-Private Partnership (PPP) between the pharmaceutical industry represented by the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) and the European Union represented by the European Commission.
www.imi.europa.eu.
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Past Research
Functional properties of identified trigeminal primary afferents and adaptive changes following acute and chronic inflammation
The trigeminal ganglion is the most complex sensory ganglion in the body as it innervates a large variety of tissues that clinically give rise to distinct pain symptoms ranging from headache to tooth ache to various forms of facial pain and temperomandibular joint dysfunction . Although the ganglion is somatotopically organized, the multitude of innervated tissues has impeded a detailed analysis of primary sensory neurons, even though the currently available evidence strongly suggests that the receptive properties of the nociceptors supplying the different target tissues are distinct. For example, stimulation of teeth gives only rise to painful sensations and thus neurons innervating teeth appear to be unique set of neurons.
The proposed project plans to identify the primary sensory neurons innervating distinct targets after retrograde transport of a fluorescent maker. Identified cells will be studied in culture using calcium imaging as a convenient way to study the functional properties to a number of nociceptive stimuli such as capsaicin, cold, heat, hyposmolar stimuli or itch-inducing stimuli.
We wish to test the hyporthesis that the proportion of neurons innervating different targets are distinct in terms of the frequency and the magnitude of their response to different algogenic stimuli. The project will allow the functional characterization of distinct neuronal population that can subsequently be studied on a molecular level following laser capture microdissection.