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U of Arizona start-up develops pain drugs that could replace addictive opioids

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 8th, 2017

A University of Arizona (UA) start-up is advancing a new class of non-opioid compounds to treat pain.

Launched by researchers Rajesh Khanna, May Khanna and Vijay Gokhale, the start-up Regulonix has shown through animal testing that its drug candidates are more effective than morphine, non-addictive and non-toxic, even at high doses.

 “Chronic pain is widely prevalent, and opioid misuse and overdose constitute major public health crises,” says Rajesh Khanna. “While opioids are unlikely to go away any time soon, out task is to arm physicians with viable alternative options to combat this marginalized condition.”

The UA compounds target a part of the nerve cell membrane that has been associated with pain disorders. This represents a departure from opioids, which only induce analgesia, or the inability to feel pain, by inhibiting multiple opioid receptors. While this helps decrease pain, it also creates problems such as an increases risk of addiction and overdose.

The Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health have awarded Regulonix a Phase I Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant of $300,000 to continue developing the drugs. The start-up has also received support from Tech Launch Arizona (TLA), the commercialization arm at UA, to patent the technology and develop a business strategy.

 “Being able to work with a group like the Regulonix team to address such a huge social and medical challenge has been wonderful,” says Rakhi Gibbons, associate director for biomedical and life sciences licensing at TLA. “We’re excited to be able to have a hand in bringing such and impactful technology to the world at such a critical moment in time.”

Source: UA News

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