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Imperial Consultants contribute to novel pain drug success

Professor Andrew Rice from the Department of Surgery and Cancer and Professor Praveen Anand from the Centre for Clinical Translation, Division of Brain Sciences, have been working with Spinifex on the clinical development of EMA401 as a novel target for pain.

Consultancy services have been provided to Spinifex since 2005 and during that time, Professor Rice has established proof of efficacy data for EMA401 in animal models of antiretroviral-induced peripheral nervous system damage.

Professor Anand is continuing his foundational mechanism of action and translational research on EMA401 and also presented these results at the 14th World Congress of Pain®. In addition, he is the Principal Investigator on an ongoing clinical trial of EMA401 in patients suffering from chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain.


Dr. Tom McCarthy, CEO of Spinifex explains:

“We have enjoyed highly productive collaborations with Profs. Rice and Anand. Their expertise in the neuropathic pain area and their leadership in the translation of fundamental pre-clinical research into innovative pain management has significantly accelerated our drug discovery and development programs.”


Both Professor Rice and Professor Anand are members of Spinifex’s Scientific Advisory Board, using their clinical expertise to guide the overall development of EMA401. This relationship saw them contributing to the design of a recently successful phase II clinical trial, with Professor Rice leading the protocol development.

The trial, which tested the effects of EMA401 on postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), a persistent nerve pain that can sometimes develop in patients following the shingles condition, showed that the drug successfully reduced pain with minimal side effects in comparison to individuals who had taken a placebo over the same length of treatment. There is currently no existing painkiller that is effective in all PHN sufferers, hence this result is generating much interest.

Professor Rice adds:

“Positive phase II studies are few and far between in neuropathic pain drug development, especially for completely novel targets, and these results are therefore the subject of some excitement. The contributions of Imperial academics to this success is a good example of the breadth of drug development capabilities and expertise available at the College.”

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