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Challenge Seeks Biomarkers for Neuropathic Pain

Neuron illustration (NIH)

(National Institute on Aging, NIH)

1 August 2014. A new challenge on InnoCentive is seeking biomarkers that help predict the effectiveness of pain-killing therapies for patients with neuropathic pain. The challenge requires a detailed written proposal due on 27 September 2014, with a payout of $25,000. Free registration is required to see the challenge details.

InnoCentive in Waltham, Massachusetts conducts open-innovation, crowdsourcing competitions for corporate and organization sponsors, in this case the pharmaceutical company Astra-Zeneca. Innocentive calls this type of competition a theoretical-licensing challenge that describes a proposed implementation of an idea, but has not yet been proven as a concept.

Neuropathic pain is caused by dysfunction or disorder in peripheral nerves, those found in motor or sensory functions, that feed into the central nervous system. The label applies to various kinds of conditions and syndromes, with a range of causes — e.g., diabetes, chemotherapy for cancer, phantom limb syndrome — that makes finding clear therapy targets difficult. Those same properties of neuropathic pain make it difficult to translate results from preclinical tests with lab animals into clear behavioral targets for clinical trials.

Astra-Zeneca therefore is taking a different strategy for addressing neuropathic pain that identifies new types of biomarkers as targets for therapies. These biomarkers should make it possible to monitor the physiology and nerve functions of patients with neuropathic pain, and better predict responses of patients to pain-killing treatments.

Responses to this type of challenge require written proposals, which will be reviewed by Astra-Zeneca, and usually include detailed requirements, specifications, and descriptions. In this challenge, Astra-Zeneca is seeking a non-exclusive license to develop the winning solution. Proposals not selected retain full intellectual-property rights following the evaluation period.

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