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03 September 2019

New research partnership targets innovative treatments for neuropathic pain

Changing lives through collaboration

Up to 10 percent of adults suffer from neuropathic pain, but many patients don’t experience relief from standard treatments1. That’s why Grünenthal and the University of Queensland are joining forces to develop innovative new treatments.

“We’re driven to transform pain management through our own research, as well as by drawing on external innovation, collaborations and networks.”

Gabriel Baertschi,

Grünenthal CEO

Neuropathic pain – commonly known as nerve pain – is caused by damage, disease or dysfunction that affects the nervous system through the nerves, brain and spinal cord. Patients with this condition experience a range of unpleasant symptoms including stabbing or burning pain, sensations of heat or coldness, feelings of pins and needles, sudden shocks or even numbness2. But even though this condition is often reported as the most severe form of pain3, treatment remains to be a challenge. This means a large population of people around the world are forced to suffer through serious pain, which can have a negative impact on their day-to-day lives and their mental wellbeing4

Grünenthal and UniQuest, the University of Queensland’s commercialisation company, are now joining forces to develop life-changing solutions for patients with neuropathic pain. The collaboration is targeting new non-opioid drug therapies derived from the group of alpha-conotoxins as analgesic and disease-modifying treatments for this condition. Together, the partners will combine UniQuest’s expertise in target and peptide – specifically conotoxine – drug discovery with Grünenthal’s longstanding experience of providing innovative treatments for people living with pain. In this way, they aim to identify novel peptidic drug candidates and progress them towards clinical development to transform the lives of nerve pain patients worldwide.

As a global leader in pain management for nearly 50 years, Grünenthal has pinpointed the unmet medical needs in the area of pain and identified focal points in which the company wants to make a difference for the lives of patients. The company does this through its own research activities, as well as by entering into collaborations and exploring networks to leverage external expertise. The University of Queensland was identified as a strong partner because it has a global reputation for excellence and is ranked among the world’s top academic institutions for research into the life sciences and pain. By working together closely, Grünenthal and UniQuest are striving to deliver meaningful solutions for patients with neuropathic pain – one of Grünenthal’s key strategic focus areas – and move closer towards Grünenthal’s vision of a world free of pain.

“We are very pleased to be able to leverage our expertise in pain research in the collaboration with Grünenthal.”

Dr. Dean Moss,

UniQuest CEO


About conotoxins

The venom of prey hunting cone snails consists of a complex mixture of numerous biologically active components, including a wide variety of neuroactive peptides called conotoxins. Individual conotoxins, generally consisting of 10 to 30 amino acids, often exhibit extraordinary potency and selectivity for neuronal targets. This has sparked increased pharmacological interest and made them valuable leads for developing innovative therapeutics, such as novel analgesics.5 6


1Colloca L et al. Nat Rev Dis Primers. 2017 Feb 16
2IASP Taxonomy Working Group. Classification of Chronic Pain, Second Edition (Revised). Part III Pain Terms. IASP Press; 2011
3Torrance N et al 2014 Oct; 155 (10) :1996
4IASP, Factsheet “Epidemiology of Neuropathic Pain”, 2014,
5Richard T. Layer, and J. Michael McIntosh, Conotoxins: Therapeutic Potential and Application, Mar Drugs. 2006 Apr; 4(3): 119–142.
6 Mir R, Karim S, Kamal MA, Wilson CM1, Mirza Z2., Conotoxins: Structure, Therapeutic Potential and Pharmacological Applications, Curr Pharm Des. 2016;22(5):582-9.

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