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The aim of this program is to develop a drug that reduces pain associated with chronic inflammation of peripheral nerves (peripheral neuropathy). Peripheral neuropathy refers to injury or inflammation of any of the peripheral nerves that fails to resolve quickly and becomes a chronic problem. Peripheral neuropathy can be due to injury, or compression (e.g. sciatica), or chemical damage (e.g. chemotherapy) or metabolic damage (e.g. type 2 diabetes). Depending on the nature of the nerve fibres damaged, the outcome can either be loss of function or persistent pain.

Peripheral neuropathic pain is currently not well managed. Common analgesics often can’t reach the injured nerve due to a specialised barrier termed the blood-nerve barrier that protects peripheral nerves from exposure to foreign chemicals. On top of which, long-term use of common analgesics is associated with unwanted side-effects such as gastric ulceration, kidney damage, and heart toxicity. Also, stronger analgesics such as opioids have significant dependency problems associated with long-term use.

Anatomy of the human pelvis and spine. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body and runs from the base of the spine to the base of the foot. Compression of nerves, such as the sciatic nerve, can be very painful. (Artist: Cassio Lynm)

In 2017, the global neuropathic pain market was worth an estimated US$5.5 billion and is expected to reach US$8.1 billion by growing at the compound annual growth rate of 5.5% during the forecasted period of 2017-2023. Despite the growth in the market, there remains a desperate need to develop safer, cheaper and more effective therapeutics. Nyrada is focused on the development of a drug that will treat peripheral neuropathic pain of the sort associated with compression (eg. sciatica) and with chemotherapy in cancer patients.

Neuropathic pain arising in the lower back and radiating into the buttock, hip and down one leg to the foot is called sciatica. Sciatica is a common condition affecting an estimated 13-40% of individuals over a lifetime. An estimated 200,000-400,000 Australians are thought to be affected by sciatica each year, whilst in the US, there is an incidence of approximately 9.8% [of the general population]. Currently, there are no drugs proven to work in the treatment of sciatica. Forms of treatment, such as aspirin and ibuprofen have their own possible side-effects including an increased risk of peptic ulcer disease, acute renal failure, stroke, and myocardial infarction.