Spinifex Pharmaceuticals has announced that three internationally acclaimed scientists in chronic pain research have joined the Company’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). Their core research areas include understanding the basis for pain progressing from acute to chronic, peripheral neuropathy, diabetic neuropathy and improving clinical trials of pain treatments. In addition, Dr Declan Doogan will transition to the SAB having formerly been Chairman of Spinifex’s Board.
These new members will help guide the development of Spinifex’s lead program EMA401, a novel angiotensin II type 2 (AT2) receptor antagonist being developed as a potential first-in-class oral treatment for chronic pain without CNS side effects.
The positive results of Spinifex’s Phase 2 clinical trial of EMA401 in postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) were recently published in The Lancet. PHN is a painful condition that develops in some patients following herpes zoster (shingles) and where existing therapy does not relieve pain in all individuals.
Spinifex is planning a further Phase 2 study with EMA401 in PHN, and investigating it in neuropathic and inflammatory pain conditions such as osteoarthritis, chemotherapy induced neuropathy and peripheral diabetic neuropathy. The Company also intends to conduct further pre-clinical research on AT2 receptor antagonists in pain, including the company’s follow on candidate program.
The new SAB members are as follows:
Dr Thomas Schnitzer
Thomas is Professor of Internal Medicine/Rheumatology and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois. He founded and directed the Office of Clinical Research and was assistant dean for clinical research at the medical school. Thomas has a long-standing interest in chronic musculoskeletal pain, understanding how pain progresses from acute to chronic and the development of new therapeutic approaches to pain management. He has worked closely with numerous pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies providing guidance on the design and conduct of clinical studies of novel drugs. He has most recently been involved in exploring the role of brain pathways in the development and maintenance of chronic pain. He is a Master of the American College of Rheumatology, served on the editorial board of numerous journals, and has published over 150 peer-reviewed publications. He has also contributed to the Cecil Textbook of Medicine, an authoritative textbook used in the study of medicine.
Dr Roy Freeman
Roy is Professor of Neurology at the Harvard Medical School and director of the Center for Autonomic and Peripheral Nerve Disorders in the Department of Neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts. His research and clinical interests are the physiology and pathophysiology of the small nerve fibers and the autonomic nervous system. His research encompasses the neurological complications of diabetes; neuropathic pain; the autonomic complications of Parkinson’s disease and multiple system atrophy; and the diagnosis and treatment of autonomic and peripheral nervous system disorders. He has a special interest in clinical trial design in neuropathic pain in diabetic peripheral neuropathy and other peripheral nerve disorders. He has been principal investigator on many neuropathic pain clinical trials. He is the principal investigator on National Institutes of Health-funded studies on the pathophysiology of orthostatic intolerance, autoimmune autonomic ganglionopathy, and hypoglycemia and the autonomic nervous system. Dr Freeman is also chairman of the World Federation of Neurology research group on the autonomic nervous system. Dr Freeman is Editor of Autonomic Neuroscience: Basic and Clinical and on the editorial board of The Clinical Journal of Pain and Clinical Autonomic Research.
Dr Robert Dworkin
Robert is Professor of Anesthesiology, Neurology, Oncology, and Psychiatry, Professor of Neurology in the Center for Human Experimental Therapeutics, and Director of the Anesthesiology Clinical Research Center at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. He is Director of the Analgesic, Anesthetic, and Addiction Clinical Trial Translations, Innovations, Opportunities, and Networks (ACTTION), a public-private partnership with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Robert’s current research focuses primarily on examining the relationships between study methodologic features and study outcomes in acute and chronic pain trials, as well as comparing the responsiveness to treatment effects of different primary and secondary outcome measures. The overall objective of this work, which is being conducted under the auspices of ACTTION, is to improve the efficiency and informativeness of clinical trials of pain treatments and to provide an evidence-based approach to analgesic clinical trial design. He is Co-chair of the Initiative on Methods, Measurement, and Pain Assessment in Clinical Trials (IMMPACT); a member of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Zoster Working Group; and a Special Government Employee of the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. He has been a principal investigator for numerous clinical trials of analgesic treatments. Robert is an Associate Editor of Pain and sits on the editorial boards of Journal of Pain and Current Pain and Headache Reports. Robert received the American Pain Society’s Wilbert E Fordyce Clinical Investigator Award in 2005, the Eastern Pain Association’s John J Bonica Award in 2011, and the American Pain Society’s John and Emma Bonica Public Service Award in 2014.
Dr Declan Doogan
Declan joined the Spinifex Board in 2011 and formerly served as Chairman. He holds a number of Board positions in pharma companies and has recently stepped down as CMO of Amarin Corporation. Declan was Senior Vice President and Head of Worldwide Development at Pfizer Global Research & Development having held a number of senior positions in Pfizer in the US, the UK and Japan. Declan joined Pfizer in 1982, where he initially led the sertraline HCl clinical development program). Declan received his medical degree from Glasgow University in 1975. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Glasgow and the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine in the UK.
Spinifex’s CEO Tom McCarthy said: “The addition of these three highly distinguished scientists in their respective areas of chronic pain and Declan joining the SAB reflects Spinifex’s ambition to advance our novel pain candidate EMA401. EMA401 has shown promise in PHN and we look forward to investigating it for other chronic pain indications that are currently poorly treated. We believe these new members will add to our already strong SAB and provide additional guidance to Spinifex as we progress our clinical programs for EMA401 and pursue its global development.”