Effective combinational treatment of chronic pain in individual patients, by an innovative quantitative systems pharmacology pain relief approach


Chronic pain is a common disease suffered by about 20% of Europeans. Up to 60% of these patients do not experience adequate pain relief or suffer confounding adverse effects from currently available therapies, which generally are combinations of analgesic and anti-hyperalgesic drugs. Of the many conceivable combinations only a few have been studied in formal clinical trials. Thus, physicians have to rely on clinical experience when treating chronic pain patients. The vision of the QSPainRelief consortium is that alternative novel effective drug combinations with reduced adverse effects can be identified and assessed by mechanism-based Quantitative Systems Pharmacology in silico modelling. This is far cheaper and less time-consuming than clinical trials. We will develop an in silico QSPainRelief platform which combines: 1) a physiologically based pharmacokinetic module to quantitate and adequately predict drug pharmacokinetics in human CNS, and 2) a proprietary quantitative sensory perception module to quantitate the drug effects on the activity of relevant brain neuronal networks, that also adequately predicts clinical outcome. These recently developed computer modules can be integrated into the QSPainRelief model including patient characteristics such as age, sex, disease status and genotypes. This model will predict efficacy and tolerability of a wide range of novel combinations, and rank these. The best combinations will then be validated in suitable animal models, in an observational clinical study, as well as in real world clinical practice. Quantitative insights and confirmed effective combinational treatments will result in a game-changer by improving the management of pain in individuals and stratified sub-populations of chronic pain patients, and reduce the large burden on health-care providers greatly. It would also increase the understanding of chronic pain in general, and trigger the development of even better combination therapies in the future.

Project details

Unibo Team Leader: Andrea Bedini

Unibo involved Department/s:
Dipartimento di Farmacia e Biotecnologie

Universiteit Leiden(Netherlands)

Other Participants:
ALMA MATER STUDIORUM - Università di Bologna (Italy)
Stichting Centre For Human Drug Research (Netherlands)
Universitat Autonoma De Barcelona (Spain)
Universite' Catholique De Louvain (Belgium)
Pd-Value Bv (Netherlands)
Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Spain)
Concentris Research Management GmbH (Germany)
Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc (Belgium)
In Silico Biosciences, Inc (United States of America)

Total Eu Contribution: Euro (EUR) 6.239.538,75
Project Duration in months: 60
Start Date: 01/01/2020
End Date: 31/12/2024

Cordis webpage

Good health and well-being This project contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 848068 This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 848068