PoC BREAK is an EU-funded project, which aims to develop a new method to treat chronic neuropathic pain through the use of a genetically engineered photoactive K+ channel.
Neuropathic pain is a form of chronic pain that affects about 8% of the world’s population. It is extremely difficult to treat because of the different variables and pathologies involved. Today, there are various drugs that can be used depending on the cause, but there is no general solution that will stop the pain as such. Drug solutions also have strong side effects that limit their use, including addiction and dependence (opioids), nausea and respiratory depression.
The main objective of the BREAK project is to develop a new therapy based on the engineering of a cellular potassium channel. The expression of this channel in neurons affected by the disease makes it possible to vary its activity by applying a light source with a specific wavelength. This makes it possible, in a simple way and without the side effects of current drugs, to drastically reduce the pain felt in the affected area.
The introduction of the new BREAK method would have a significant impact on patients’ lives by reducing the side effects that are often a reason for non-adherence to therapy. Studies in this field will also make it possible to develop new therapies capable of tackling other pathologies linked to chronic pain and the malfunctioning of peripheral nerve cells more generally.
Day One has for years played an active role in supporting research through a continuous study of the economic sustainability of activities. It also supports the team at a prospective level in analysing the potential market, which includes the study of the regulatory pathway, the analysis of the pathologies causing neuropathic pain, existing therapies (pharmacological and non-pharmacological) and the stakeholders involved. Particular attention is also devoted to the study of the most suitable and practical activation method for patients and professionals.
This was made possible through interviews with key opinion leaders in the field, including doctors, associations and companies, who were very interested in the new technology.
At the same time, Day One also intends to support clinical trials by coordinating the creation of a startup that will be responsible for raising funds and sponsoring the entire validation phase, while at the same time starting a dialogue with any pharmaceutical companies that may be interested.
This first meeting with the market enabled the team to identify on the one hand the often underestimated needs of patients from the early stages of development, and on the other hand the need to protect part of the intellectual property through the presentation of patents and part through trade secrets. In addition, new targets were set (in terms of safety, efficacy and production cost) which will guide the next stages of development.