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  • Aachen, Germany, September 27, 2016. The LifeSciences.NRW called for consortia of small and medium-sized companies and academic groups within North Rhein-Westphalia to compete in making proposals for developing solutions to solve current challenges within the field of biomedical sciences. Of the 51 submissions, the project of the consortium under the direction of Grünenthal was also considered worthy of funding. This proposal, entitled NeuRoWeg, was developed together with the University Hospitals in Cologne and Bonn, and a small specialist company, Life & Brain in Bonn, and will be supported with a grant of €1.5 million over the next three years. The aim is to improve the treatment of patients suffering from neuropathic pain, as this is only inadequately managed with currently available therapeutic agents.
  • Research grant awarded by Leitmarktwettbewerb LifeSciences.NRW to improve the development of new analgesic drugs
  • The consortium members, founded and led by Grünenthal, are from the University Hospitals of Cologne and Bonn, and a specialist scientific company, Life & Brain

    The € 1.5 million funding by the EU and the State of NRW will be used to support research into the molecular basis of neuropathic pain, and to develop novel test systems which will allow the efficacy of new analgesics for patients to be assessed more accurately and rapidly. This is reflected in the title of the NeuRoWeg project, “Innovative test systems for identifying curative analgesics with reliable efficacy in patients”.

    Neuropathic pain arises as a result of nerve injury caused by diseases such as diabetes, or by chemotherapy, or by accidents or surgery. It is suffered by approximately 7% - 10% of the general population1, a very large number of people, and its incidence increases with age, especially in women.

    Dr. Klaus-Dieter Langner, Chief Scientific Officer of Grünenthal, said “I am looking forward to the results of this research project. I am also delighted that with the University Hospitals of Cologne and of Bonn, and with Life & Brain, we will have excellent partners within NRW at our side to jointly improve the prospects for developing better drug therapies for patients suffering from neuropathic pain.”

    Dr. Gregor Bahrenberg, the NeuRoWeg project coordinator and Laboratory Head at Grünenthal, added “We continually strive to identify novel test systems with which we can more reliably and more rapidly characterize whether new drugs will be effective in humans. In order to achieve this, we want to collaborate with our partners to establish innovative assays employing stem cells derived from human skin or blood cells to advance the means for identifying novel pain medications which can cure patients. To this end, we will combine the expertise of renowned specialists with cutting-edge technologies. The ultimate aim is to predict the efficacy of new drugs in order to select the most suitable of the many research compounds for clinical development”.

    Dr. Petra Bloms-Funke is Head of the Department of Medical Intelligence and Innovation Partnerships and responsible for the acquisition of non-dilutive research funding for Grünenthal Innovation, the Research and Development Unit. She adds: “Our cooperative project NeuRoWeg will enhance our understanding of pain as a disease and how to cure it. A key problem in the development of new medicines is the poor ability of currently available test systems to predict efficacy in patients. This can lead to high failure rates during clinical development. We anticipate a considerable improvement with the highly innovative test systems we have planned. The consortium was founded because the success of this highly complex project will require coordinated contributions from highly specialized experts from different areas. Together we can advance and accelerate the development of new and effective pain medications, and make them available to patients more quickly than possible today. We are greatly looking forward to this inter-disciplinary collaboration.”


    1 van Hecke O. et al, Neuropathic pain in the general population: a systematic review of epidemiological studies. Pain. 2014 Apr;155(4):654-62)

    About the funding of bio-medical research and development in North Rhein-Westphalia with resources from the EU and of the Federal State of NRW
    The Federal State of North Rhein-Westphalia (NRW) initiated the Leitmarktwettbewerb LifeSciences.NRW, a funding competition, in 2015 to develop solutions to challenges in the field of health and well-being for our aging population. This initiative offers funding opportunities for groups of small and medium-sized enterprises, academic institutions and pharmaceutical companies in North Rhein-Westphalia, for innovative projects in research and development with resources provided by the EU and the State of North Rhein-Westphalia. By supporting innovation, the State of North Rhein-Westphalia wishes to secure sustainable growth and employment opportunities, and increase its international visibility as a leading location for Life Sciences.

    Steffen Fritzsche

    Head Corporate Communications

    Grünenthal GmbH



    Phone +49 241 569-1568