Akelos Inc., a biotechnology company currently developing and commercializing a non-opioid, anti-hyperalgesia drug to treat chronic and neuropathic pain, recently announced its Scientific Founder, Peter Goldstein, has been awarded a $1,757,406 grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a non-opioid alternative for treating neuropathic pain.
According to a news release, the two-year grant was awarded under the NIH’s Helping to End Addiction Long-term Initiative, or NIH HEAL Initiative, which aims to improve treatments for chronic pain, curb the rates of opioid use disorder and overdose, and achieve long-term recovery from opioid addiction.
“Despite irreparable damage caused by the worst health care crisis in the history of the U.S.—the opioid crisis—not enough is being done to address this public health emergency,” says Steven Fox, MD, founder of Akelos Inc. “With more than 21 million American adults suffering from neuropathic pain, there exists a significant need for alternatives to opioid therapies. That is why we have tapped the most qualified doctors in the country to collaborate on the development of a non-addictive medicine for the treatment of chronic and neuropathic pain.”
Fox, Goldstein, and the rest of the team aim to leverage the grant to develop a candidate therapy for peripheral neuropathic pain, which is when neurological damage has occurred somewhere in the body outside the brain and spinal cord. Efforts are focused on the HCN1 ion channel for primary sensory neurons, which plays a pivotal role in the individual’s experience of pain. The team is developing a small molecule version of their candidate drug, suitable for oral delivery, and also plans to develop an injectable version that is attached to a large antibody molecule, the release says.
“We’re thrilled to have received this highly competitive, peer-reviewed award from NIH,” says Goldstein, who is also a professor of anesthesiology at Weill Cornell Medicine. “Such support validates our approach to finding a better therapy for peripheral neuropathic pain; if we’re successful we could fundamentally alter the management of a medical problem for which current treatments are insufficient.”
Often described as a shooting or burning sensation, neuropathic pain is chronic pain caused by damage to the neurons or nerve fibers that normally transmit pain signals to the brain, resulting in them becoming hypersensitive or hyperactive. It's pain often associated with aberrant activity in the central and/or peripheral nervous system.
More than 20% of U.S. adults have chronic pain, according to a 2018 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, and over $90 billion is spent annually on all downstream and indirect costs associated with the condition. Compounding the issue, an estimated 10.3 million people 12 years and older in the U.S. misused opioids, including heroin, in 2018.
For more information about Akelos Inc. and how the company is building new frontiers to address neuropathic pain, please visit www.akelosinc.com.