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Archive workshop and seminar slides Professor Peter Karmerman…
Summer School, June 2009 Photos from the London Pain Consortium Summer School, held 21st-26th June 2009 in El Escorial, Madrid, Spain.

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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.
www.imi.europa.eu.
 
Current Research
Experimental pain models in humans and heritability of pain traits
Project 1
We are developing the model of UVB irradiation as a translational model of experimental pain in humans. UVB irradiation leads to hypersensitivity to both mechanical and thermal stimuli as well as localised erythema. We have adapted this model for use in both humans and rodents. We are using microfluidic PCR arrays to screen a large number of mediators in inflamed skin and this has enabled us to compare mediator expression in both rodent and human skin and assess susceptibility to pharmacological manipulation. We hope therefore that this will enable us to characterise novel mediators contributing to the generation of inflammatory pain which can be validated in rodent and translated back into man.

We have previously found significant heritability of pain traits in twin studies performed in collaboration with Prof Tim Spector. We would now like to extend this research by studying pain sensibility in both volunteers and increasing the size of the twins cohort. Deatiled psychophysical testing will be performed in combination with modern genomics to try and find genetic variants which modulate pain sensibility.

Project 2
Two approaches are being taken to study the development of neuropathic pain in patients. Firstly in combination with Prof JN Wood and international collaborators we have identified a cohort of patients with a novel gain of function pain syndrome inherited in a mendelian fashion. Using linkage analysis, candidate gene sequencing and detailed clinical assessment the genetic basis for this rare syndrome is being determined.

We are also studying risk factors for onset and severity of neuropathic pain in the context of peripheral neuropathy (Pain In Neuropathy Study, DR DLH Bennett, Prof SB McMahon and Prof AS Rice). A large cohort of neuropathy patients will be studied and their pain symptoms, detailed quantitative sensory testing and intra-epidermal nerve fibre density documneted. This clinical assessment will be combined with candidate gene analysis and possibly genome wide association studies in the future.