NIH grant for discovery of novel non-opioid drugs for chronic pain 

1910 Genetics has been awarded an approximate $550,000 Phase I STTR grant by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  

The grant, received from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) as part of the Helping to End Addiction Long-term Initiative, or NIH HEAL Initiative, supports the discovery of a novel small molecule drug that is safe and effective at blocking the protein product of a non-opioid gene for the treatment of chronic pain. 

Chronic pain, which affects 50 million Americans, is a serious health problem and is understood to be an underlying cause of the opioid crisis. Opioids, commonly prescribed by clinicians to help patients manage chronic pain, pose life-threatening risk of misuse and abuse, addiction and overdose. To date, there are no therapeutic alternatives to opioids for treating chronic pain. 

“Our goal is to address the lack of non-opioid pain therapies by using our technology to discover and develop a new class of safe and effective treatments for chronic pain, and we are honored that the National Institutes of Health have recognized the potential of our approach with this larger than typical Phase I grant,” said Dr Jen Nwankwo, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of 1910 Genetics. “We have already demonstrated that our integrated approach, which combines AI-driven drug design with biological automation, is able to significantly shorten the typical drug discovery time from initial concept to novel lead compounds by many months.” 

1910 Genetics’ combination of computational drug design with wet lab automation enables rapid development of high-value biological datasets, purposefully built for machine learning, which power the company’s AI platforms to accelerate drug discovery. In the programme supported by this grant, the company has identified and validated a novel gene whose inhibition has been shown to ameliorate pain by mechanisms different from those addressed by opioid drugs. After applying BAGEL, the company’s AI-driven generative chemistry platform, 1910 Genetics discovered a novel, small molecule drug candidate that is potent at blocking the protein product of this non-opioid gene. 

The company’s “design -> make -> test” cycle was completed within two months, significantly faster than the cycle achieved by traditional drug discovery approaches. 1910 Genetics now aims to rapidly advance this lead compound series to the lead optimisation stage, which the company expects to complete within 12 months, as opposed to the three years it typically takes using traditional approaches to lead optimisation. 

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