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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.
Current Research
Bioinformatics protocols exploiting text mining and function prediction algorithms to reveal pain mediating gene candidates
The aim of this project is to reveal novel insights into the molecular machinery underlying neuropathic pain. This will be achieved by means of combining existing knowledge of pain processing at the molecular level with other useful forms of biological data to make predictions of putative pain genes and networks.

For this analysis to be possible, information on genes experimentally implicated in pain processing will be extracted from the literature. This will be done by text-mining relevant published articles and querying various public functional data repositories such as the Pain Genes Database and the Mouse Genome Informatics Database. To successfully integrate this data with existing gene expression data from animal models of pain from the London Pain Database, and to deal with the multi-factorial nature of pain, each gene entry in the database will be annotated with a set of controlled vocabulary terms expressing the associated pain phenotype, the underlying experimental condition causing this phenotype and the anatomical location in which the level of expression of the gene has been showed to be altered in a correlated manner with the observed pain phenotype. Thus, an essential part of this project will be to extend the London Pain Database to include domain specific experimentally derived gene expression data as well as incorporating controlled vocabulary from anatomy, phenotype and disease/pathology encoding ontologies.

In order to predict novel pain genes, this project will look to reveal previously uncharacterised associations with the pain genes from the London Pain Database. This will be done with the use of FuncNet: a suite of function predicting tools utilising various types of biological data such as structural, genomic-context and protein-protein interaction data, developed jointly with bioinformaticians from across Europe. Statistical frameworks for integrating these predictions and increase their confidence will be researched in collaboration with Prof John Shawe-Taylor, department of computer science, UCL.