Projects

Medicinal products against chronic pain
Many patients experience chronic pain. In a large number of them, the disease is mediated through damage to the nervous system. Currently, there are insufficient good medicinal products to alleviate this problem: their duration of effectiveness is too short, and only a small group of patients experiences sufficient pain relief. This project aims to develop medication that will effectively alleviate chronic pain.

The research is focusing on a protein (CCL2) that binds to a receptor (CCR2); both are present in the central nervous system. In animal models for chronic pain, it has been shown that raised levels of both CCL2 and CCR2 are present compared with the normal (healthy) situation, which could mean that they are involved in the origin of chronic pain. Efforts are being made to develop molecules that bind reversibly to the receptor but for an extended period, thus suppressing the pain more efficiently. The testing has concentrated initially on cells that contain the receptor. If the new substance shows promising activity, it will be tested further in the appropriate animal model.

Fast facts
Full project title: Target Residence Time
Start date: January 2010
End date: July 2013
Goal: develop new medicinal products against chronic pain
Principal investigators: Laura H. Heitman and Ad P. IJzerman, LACDR, University of Leiden
Project size: 3 FTE
Partners: University of Leiden, Free University Amsterdam, Vertex Pharmaceuticals (San Diego, CA, USA)

Background

Chronic pain is pain that by definition lasts longer than a month and is caused by damage to the nervous system. While acute pain is normally a defensive signal that the body needs as protection, chronic pain does not have a warning function and can be severe and debilitating. That is why it has such a massive effect on people's activities: it hinders them in their daily lives. The quality of life can drop considerably as a result. Alleviating chronic pain is very difficult because often the cause is unknown and thus cannot be eliminated. For example, cancer patients, patients recovering from burn wounds or people with pain from osteoporosis. Many people suffer with chronic pain. Research has shown that this affects one in every five adults. 

PhD theses from this project:

Maris Vilums (project D1-301)
Small Changes For Long Term Impact

Annelien Zweemer (project D1-301)
The INS and OUTS of ligand binding to CCR2

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Medicines for Malaria Venture

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