How do you spell relief? Two more years of pain research for AstraZeneca and McGill


New agreement is the centrepiece for research into new treatments for chronic pain

Building on a successful five-year alliance which concluded earlier this year, AstraZeneca and McGill University have signed a two-year research agreement that focuses on new drug-discovery approaches and finding new treatments for patients living with chronic pain. The $484,000-a-year agreement covers seven separate central nervous system and pain (CNSP) research projects, and spells out goals for the various stages of the drug discovery process.

An estimated one in five adults suffers from chronic pain at some point in their lives, and its incidence is growing. It can be devastating to individuals and their ability to function normally, leading to sleeplessness, depression, memory loss and lack of mobility. Current therapies are associated with safety and health issues and are not providing adequate relief to large numbers of chronic pain sufferers.

"As a leading centre of pain research, McGill University is pleased to continue its important collaboration with AstraZeneca," said Heather Munroe-Blum, McGill's Principal and Vice-Chancellor. "McGill scientists will evaluate new targets, explore new therapeutic opportunities for existing AstraZeneca compounds and provide direct support to continuing projects that may one day provide relief to millions of chronic pain sufferers around the world."

The agreement also spells out goals in the critical area of functional imaging to measure pain caused by damage to or dysfunction of the nervous system and to use imaging to see how AstraZeneca compounds are working to control pain.

"This is an innovative alliance that brings together McGill's world-class disease understanding with AstraZeneca's analgesia drug discovery expertise. We are proud to collaborate with McGill in the search for effective, safe treatments for chronic pain," says Dr. Philippe Walker, Interim Global Vice-President, AstraZenecaCNS&Pain/ Neuroscience Research Area. "The strong professional relationship is also a source of new ideas and innovative approaches, such as the Nav1.7 project which is currently in development."

Prof. Fernando Cervero is director of McGill's Alan Edwards Centre for Research on Pain and is affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine's department of anesthesia. He's a leading expert in the visceral pain, the pain we feel when our internal organs are damaged or injured, by far the most common form. "Our experience with AstraZeneca has been only positive and dynamic. This new alliance takes our collaboration to the next level to combine our expertise in areas where our research interests converge," he said.

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About McGill University

McGill University, founded in Montreal, Que., in 1821, is Canada's leading post-secondary institution. It has two campuses, 11 faculties, 10 professional schools, 300 programs of study and more than 35,000 students. McGill attracts students from more than 150 countries around the world. Almost half of McGill students claim a first language other than English - including 6,200 francophones - with more than 6,800 international students making up almost 20 per cent of the student body.

About AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business with a primary focus on the discovery, development and commercialization of prescription medicines.  As a leader in gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neuroscience, respiratory and inflammation, oncology and infectious disease medicines, AstraZeneca generated global revenues of US $32.8 billion in 2009. The company employs 62,000 people around the world, with 11,000 working in R&D. In Canada, AstraZeneca operates a neuroscience drug discovery centre in Montreal, one of 14 research facilities around the world. The company is proud to support health sciences research at universities, hospitals and medical schools in Canada and elsewhere.

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