Galapagos has inked a two-year, €3.3 million drug discovery deal with the University of Bristol  in England. The partners will aim at developing treatments for diabetic neuropathic pain. Galapagos’ service division BioFocus will provide hit-to-lead and lead optimization services for a Wellcome Trust funded program at the University of Bristol.

This work is supported by a Seeding Drug Discovery Award from the Wellcome Trust, to a team of researchers led by David Wynick, Professor of Molecular Medicine at the University of Bristol. The project aims to develop a new analgesic drug based on the protein galanin, a small protein that has been shown to reduce neuropathic pain in a number of models of diseases, including diabetes. In earlier studies, several compounds from the BioFocus screening collection were shown to amplify the therapeutic effect of galanin in vitro. In the two-year collaboration announced today, BioFocus will provide medicinal chemistry, biology and ADME/PK for this research project, with the goal to optimize these molecules for the treatment of diabetic neuropathic pain.

“This latest collaboration with the University of Bristol is a prime example of BioFocus’ ability to deliver results and thereby retain partners. Once again we see the BioFocus screening libraries deliver promising hits that are of interest to the academic and pharmaceutical communities,” said Onno van de Stolpe, CEO of Galapagos. “We are pleased that the University of Bristol has expanded and extended this successful relationship into other strong areas of BioFocus expertise.”

“Molecules from the BioFocus collection have shown promise in amplifying the therapeutic properties of galanin in models of neuropathic pain,” said Prof. David Wynick from the University of Bristol. “In this new collaboration with BioFocus, we aim to further optimize these molecules into potential clinical candidates for the treatment of chronic pain associated with diseases such as diabetes.”

Rick Davis, Business Development Manager at the Wellcome Trust, commented “Existing painkillers can prove largely ineffective against neuropathic pain so we are pleased to support this project, which addresses an area of huge unmet clinical need.”