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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.
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Selected Principle investigators publications

Andrews KA, Desai D, Dhillon HK, Wilcox DT, Fitzgerald M . Abdominal sensitivity in the first year of life: comparison of infants with and without prenatally-diagnosed unilaternal hydronephrosis. Pain. 2002 100:35-46

Andrews K, Fitzgerald M . Wound sensitivity as a measure of analgesic effects following surgery in human neonates and infants. Pain. 2002 99:185-192

Beggs S, Torsney C, Drew L, Fitzgerald M . The postnatal reorganization of primary afferent input and dorsal horn cell receptive fields in the rat spinal cord is an activity-dependent process. European Journal of Neuroscience. 2002 16:1249-1258

Buchan D, Shepherd A, Lee D, Bray J, Pearl F, Thornton J, Orengo C .Gene3D:Structural assignments for whole genes and genomes using the CATH domain structure database. Genome Research. 2002 Vol 12,503-514

Bradbury EJ, Moon LDF, Popat RJ, King VR, Bennett GS, Patel PN, Fawcett JW, McMahon SB . Chondroitinase ABC promotes axon regeneration and functional recovery following spinal cord injury. Nature. 2002 416:636-640

Duggan MJ, Quinn CP, Chaddock JA, Purkiss JR, Alexander FCG, Doward S, Fooks SJ, Friis LM, Hall YJ, Kirby ER, Leeds N, Mouldsdale HJ, Dickenson AH, Mark Green G, Rahman W, Suzuki R, Shone CC, Foster KA. Inhibition of release of neurotransmitters from rat dorsal root ganglia by a novel conjugate of a Clostridium botulinum toxin A endopeptidase fragment and Erythrina cristagalli lectin. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2002 277:34846-34852

Farquhar-Smith WP, Jaggar SI, Rice ASC . Attenuation of nerve growth factor-induced visceral hyperalgesia via cannabinoid CB1 and CB2 -like receptors. Pain. 2002 97:11-21

Flatters S, Fox A, Dickenson AH . Nerve injury induces plasticity that results in spinal inhibitory effects of galanin. Pain. 2002 98:249-258

Malik-Hall M, Wood JN, Okuse K. Voltage-gated sodium channels. Receptor and Ion-Channel Trafficking, edited by S. Moss and J. Henley, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK 2002 3-26

Mantyh PW, Clohisy DR, Koltzenburg M, Hunt SP . Molecular mechanisms of cancer pain. Nature Reviews Cancer. 2002 2:201-209

Matthews EA, Dickenson AH . A combination of gadapentin and morphine mediates enhanced inhibitory effects on dorsal horn neuronal responses in a rat model of neuropathy. Anesthesiology. 2002 96:633-640.

McMahon SB . Neuropathic pain mechanisms. Proceedings of the 10th World Congress on Pain. An Updated review: Refresher Course Syllabus, edited by Maria Adele Giamberardino, IASP Press, San Diego 2002 155-163

Nagano N, Orengo CA, Thornton JM. One fold with many functions - the evolutionary relationships between TIM barrel families based on their sequences, structures and functions. Journal of Molecular Biology. 2002 321:741-765

Okuse K, Malik-Hall M, Baker MD, Poon W-YL, Kong H, Chao MV, Wood JN . The annexin II light chain p11 regulates the functional expression of the sensory neuron specific sodium channel. Nature. 2002 417:(6889) 653-656

O'Reilly BA, Kosaka AH, Knight GF, Chang TK, Ford AP, Rymer JM, Popert R, Burnstock G, McMahon SB . P2X receptors and their role in female idiopathic detrusor instability. Journal of Urology. 2002 167(1):157-164

Pearl FM, Lee D, Bray JE, Buchan DW, Shepherd AJ, Orengo CA . The CATH extended protein-family database: providing structural annotations for genome sequences. Protein Sci. 2002 Feb;11(2):233-44

Pezet S, Malcangio M, Lever IJ, Perkinton MS, Thompson SWN, Williams RJ, McMahon SB. Noxious stimulation induces Trk receptor and down-stream ERK phosphorylation in the spinal dorsal horn. Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience. 2002 21:684-695

Pezet S, Malcangio M, McMahon SB . BDNF: A neuromodulator in nociceptive pathways?. Brain Research Reviews. 2002 40:240-249

Ramer MS, Bishop T, Dockery P, Mobarak MS, O?Leary D, Fraher JP, Priestley JV, McMahon SB (2002) Neurotrophin-3-mediated regeneration and recovery of proprioception following dorsal rhizotomy. Molecular Cellular Neuroscience. 2002 19(2):239-249

Rice ASC, Farquhar-Smith WP, Nagy I. Endocannabinoids and Pain: Spinal and Peripheral Analgesia in Inflammation and Neuropathy. Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids. 2002 66(2-3):243-256

Shepherd AJ, Martin NJ, Johnson RGShepherd AJ, Martin NJ, Johnson RG, Kellam P, Orengo CA . PFDB: a generic protein family database integrating the CATH domain structure database with sequence based protein family resources. Bioinformatics. 2002 Dec;18(12):1666-72

Suzuki R, Dickenson AH . Nerve injury-induced changes in opioid modulation of wide dynamic range dorsal column nuclei neurons. Neuroscience. 2002 111:215-228

Dickenson AH , Suzuki R, Matthews EA, Neurobiology of neuropathic pain: mode of action of anticonvulsants. European Journal of Pain. 2002 6:51-60

Suzuki R, Morcuende S, Webber M, Hunt SP, Dickenson AH . Superficial NK1-expressing neurons control spinal excitability through activation of descending pathways. Nature Neuroscience. 2002 5:1319-26

Todd AE, Orengo CA, Thornton JM. Plasticity of enzyme active sites. TIBS. 2002 27(8):419-426

Todd AE, Orengo CA, Thornton JM. Sequence and structural differences between enzyme and non enzyme homologues. Structure. 2002 10:1-20

Torsney C, Fitzgerald M . Age-dependent effects of peripheral inflammation upon the electrophysiological properties of neonatal rat dorsal horn neurons: developmental of hyperalgesia and allodynia. Journal of Neurophysiology. 2002 87:1311-7

Yiangou Y, Facer P, Sinicropi D, Boucher TJ, Bennett DLH, McMahon SB, Anand P. Molecular forms of NGF in human and rat neuropathic tissues: decreased NGF precursor-like immunoreactivity in human diabetic skin. Journal of the Peripheral Nervous System. 2002 7(3):190-197