Biology of pain perception
Pain perception is mediated by peripheral sensory neurons, called nociceptors, whose fibers innervate the skin, muscles, joints, and internal organs. Nociceptors relay signals to the central nervous system by activating neurons that reside in the spinal cord and project axons to the brain. Acute pain in response to noxious thermal, chemical, and mechanical stimuli is essential for our ability to avoid impending danger. In contrast, chronic pain syndromes are pathophysiological. These syndromes are associated with aberrant activity of nociceptors and ascending neural pathways that persists for a long time, even when harmful stimuli are no longer present.
What Neuresta does to help
While people commonly experience chronic pain in particular areas of the body, current therapies largely rely on orally administered drugs. These drugs produce systemic side effects, which ultimately may lead to addiction by influencing neural pathways unrelated to pain. Neuresta develops novel long-lasting injectable treatments that prevent undesired activity of nociceptors at the specific sites of pain. We accomplish this using cutting edge science and technology for genetic re-engineering of Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNT).
Therapeutic potential of BoNT
BoNTs are bacterial enzymes that block synaptic communication by cleaving neuronal SNAREs, proteins that promote the secretion of chemical neurotransmitters and neuropeptides. Due to its ability to paralyze muscles, naturally produced BoNT type A is marketed for cosmetic and some medical applications where muscle relaxation is beneficial. The main advantages of such treatments are that BoNT is efficient at very low doses and its effects last for several months. However, the strong paralytic properties of natural BoNT are a major hurdle in its use for medical conditions that are attributed to neuronal hyperactivity, such as pain syndromes.
Our innovative proprietary platform is tailored for separate production of individual inactive BoNT protein domains. These domains can be modified to achieve desired potency and cellular targeting specificity. They can then be quickly assembled into stable functional complexes in different combinations. We currently advance several BoNT-based candidate biopharmaceuticals designed to block the undesired activity of sensory neurons responsible for pain sensation without causing muscle paralysis. The promise of these candidates for chronic pain relief has been demonstrated in our basic research studies.