Spinifex Pharmaceuticals, a start-up company commercialising novel treatments for neuropathic and inflammatory pain developed by The University of Queensland’s (UQ) Professor Maree Smith, has reported positive results from a recent Phase 2 clinical trial of its lead product, EMA401, for postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), a painful condition that develops in some patients following herpes zoster (shingles).

The results were presented at the 14th World Congress of Pain® in Milan, a major international meeting organised by the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP®).  A summary can be accessed here.

David Henderson, Managing Director of UQ’s main research commercialisation company, UniQuest, said the clinical trial results marked a major milestone for Spinifex Pharmaceuticals, which UniQuest formed in 2005.

“Professor Maree Smith and her colleagues have developed new possibilities to help doctors relieve patients of this extremely debilitating nerve pain,” Mr Henderson said.

“As many as one in four people contract shingles in their lifetime, and about 20% of them will experience PHN, but there’s no single treatment available that works for all of them without dose-limiting side-effects.

“Elderly people have twice the risk of contracting shingles, so the global aging population trend has prompted predictions that the market for neuropathic pain treatments will exceed US$6 billion in the next five years. With EMA401 being developed as a potential first-in-class oral treatment for neuropathic pain and related symptoms, Spinifex is on track to have a significant impact on this healthcare sector.

“And particularly rewarding for UniQuest is that the original discovery, upon which Spinifex Pharmaceuticals is based, was one of the winners of our very first Trailblazer innovative and entrepreneurial ideas competition at UQ, and we celebrating the winners of the 10th Trailblazer competition right now.”

Spinifex Pharmaceuticals CEO Tom McCarthy said it was tremendously gratifying for the Spinifex team to have taken a scientific discovery through to proof of clinical concept in what is a notoriously difficult field and one where new treatments are clearly needed.

“We look forward to advancing EMA401 further in PHN, other neuropathic pain indications, and eventually as a broad treatment for chronic pain in general,” Dr McCarthy said.

Spinifex’s clinical program for EMA401 is currently recruiting for a Phase 2 study in the treatment of neuropathic pain in cancer chemotherapy patients.

About Spinifex Pharmaceuticals
Spinifex Pharmaceuticals is an Australian biotechnology company developing new drug candidates for the treatment and management of pain. Established in 2005 and based in Melbourne, Spinifex has applied its world-class drug development capabilities to advance product candidates. Its lead product EMA401 is under development as a potential first-in-class oral treatment for neuropathic pain and related symptoms without CNS side effects. Spinifex’s Phase 2 program for EMA401 includes clinical trials in a number of neuropathic pain conditions. Spinifex investors are GBS Venture PartnersBrandon Capital PartnersUniseed and UniQuest.

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