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One European in five suffers from chronic pain and one European in four suffers of severe chronic pain; in other word, 100 million people in the 28 EU countries alone, half of them does not receive satisfactorily treatment with the currently available painkillers. Innovative therapeutic approaches are required, which preferably allow the simultaneous treatment of several pathologically altered processes in the body.  To this purpose, we set up a partnership between the Institute for Neurosciences and Medicine (INM-2, INM-5, INM-9) in the Research Centre Jülich (FZJ), Grünenthal Pharma company and Taros Chemicals, a business specialising in chemical design and synthesis. The Dual2PET (Development of Positron-Emission Tomography-ligands to demonstrate the duality of the mechanisms of action of new analgesics) is an ambitious project aiming at developing the so-called multi-valent ligands, that can bind multiple targets in the body, therefore promoting multiple modes of action against pain.

In this context, the INM-9 Institute has carried out a wide virtual screening campaign against two targets involved in mechanisms of chronic pain, namely the TSPO protein and the KV7.2 ion channel. Our work has been devoted at the understanding of the structural features of the targets and at the identification of molecular scaffolds with potential dual activity. Our efforts in these areas have resulted, so far, in one publication (Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(9), 2588) and in the selection of about 40 compounds for experimental testing. Further studies on the TSPO and KV7.2 structures are ongoing. Meanwhile, experimental feedbacks from our collaborators on the selected scaffold, will guide us through the following steps of ligand optimization, to improve the pharmaceutical properties of the compounds.

The Dual2PET Consortium:

Institut für Neurowissenschaften und Medizin, Bereich Molekulare Organisation des Gehirns (INM-2)

Institut für Neurowissenschaften und Medizin, Bereich Nuklearchemie (INM-5)

Institut für Neurowissenschaften und Medizin, Bereich Computational Biomedicine (INM-9 / IAS-5)

Informationen auf den Webseiten der Grünenthal GmbH

Taros Chemical

Informationen auf der Webseite des Leitmarktwettbewerbs NRW