We recently had the chance to speak with the team at Akelos Inc., a pharmaceutical company that is creating the first-ever HCN1 selective inhibitors for the treatment of neuropathic pain. We talked about a variety of issues pertaining to their novel method of pain management, including their research and development procedure, difficulties they encountered along the way, and their future goals.
New York City-based Akelos Inc., a pharmaceutical business established in 2018, has created a nonopioid, non-addictive medication to treat neuropathic chronic pain. Weill Cornell has granted the firm an exclusive worldwide license to create and test this medication, which has the potential to cure 500 million people globally and lessen the opioid crisis.
The drug’s testing and funding are Akelos’ two largest obstacles to success, according to CEO Dr. Steven Fox. The team is extremely enthused about the potential influence their drug could have on current medicine by reducing excruciating pain despite these obstacles. Dr. Fox’s career path as a dentist and winner of Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award has brought him to his current role as CEO of Akelos. There are a few companies in this field, but they haven’t yet found success. Akelos has a competitive advantage thanks to Cornell-issued patents.
The team at Akelos is made up of remarkable people, including a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, previous heads of neuroscience at Merck, Lilly, and Pfizer, a former chief counsel to the FDA, the head of pain management at Boston Children’s Hospital, a former senate majority leader, and a Cornell research team. The company’s technology inhibits the peripheral nervous system’s HCN1 ion channels. The pharmaceutical sector is well positioned for Akelos because of its dedication to creating a nonopioid treatment for chronic pain, outstanding team, and adherence to the highest ethical and scientific standards. They are in a position to have a big impact in the future.
Mission and Vision
With a market opportunity of $25 billion annually, Akelos’ goal is to assist those suffering from chronic pain and end the opioid crisis. By continuing to develop its non-opioid medicine and requesting FDA approval, the business hopes to dominate the pain market.
The Akelos team talked about their plans for broadening their research beyond neuropathic pain to investigate potential uses in other medical specialties in the future. In order to expand the knowledge of chronic pain and its management, they also emphasized their dedication to working in partnership and collaboration with other organizations and researchers in the area.
The problem (and its solution)
Over 20 million Americans suffer with neuropathic pain, a chronic illness that has a variety of medical causes, such as diabetes, chemotherapy, and postoperative consequences. Even the most basic daily tasks can be challenging for a patient with this crippling ailment, which can significantly affect their quality of life. Sadly, patients must rely on opioids, which are highly addictive and frequently ineffectual at curing the underlying disease, as there are presently no effective treatments for neuropathic pain.
With predictions of $8.25 to $9.9 billion and a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.4% to 8.25% by 2027, the market for an effective therapy for neuropathic pain has a sizable potential. But creating an effective remedy is not without difficulties. Significant obstacles include drug testing and funding. Despite these obstacles, Akelos is certain that its medication has the power to transform contemporary medicine and improve the lives of millions of people around the world.
The members of Akelos’ team are among the best in the business, including a chemistry Nobel Prize winner, former heads of neuroscience at Merck, Lilly, and Pfizer, a former FDA chief counsel, the head of pain management at Boston Children’s Hospital, a former Senate majority leader, and a Cornell research team. The company’s strengths, which set it apart from other start-ups aiming to produce a non-opioid medicine, are its team and its patents from Cornell.
In summary, the market opportunity and potential positive effects on millions of people’s lives for Akelos’ medication to treat neuropathic pain are huge. Despite the considerable obstacles the business faces, it has the people and the necessary tools to thrive, and in the upcoming years it is positioned to rule the pain area!
Effectiveness of HCN1 blockers
HCN1 channels are involved in diseases including chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) and diabetic neuropathy and have a crucial role in the perception of pain. Additionally, damaged sensory neurons show increased HCN1 activity.
In order to provide analgesia without the need for general anesthesia, Akelos has discovered a chemical that is structurally similar to a well-known safe anesthetic but has been enhanced to inhibit the HCN1 channel specifically and potently. According to the company’s study, the medication will be useful in treating a variety of neuropathic pain problems that are now not sufficiently treated by current therapies.
Over 116 million US adults suffer from chronic pain, with 20 million of those people enduring neuropathic pain, according to the American Academy of Pain Medicine. Since there are now no effective treatments for neuropathic pain, it significantly lowers a person’s quality of life. The market for treating neuropathic pain is anticipated to increase at a compound yearly growth rate of 6.4% to 8.25% and reach $8.25 to $9.9 billion by 2027. If effective, Akelos’ specific HCN1 inhibitor could meet an unmet medical need and revolutionize the way neuropathic pain is treated.
A US patent application from Akelos Inc. has been approved, and it includes claims for many compounds, including the main compound and pharmaceutical formulations. According to the WIPO Search Report, the claims in the PCT International Patent Application, PCT/US2019/039493, titled “Substituted Alkylphenols as HCN1 Antagonists,” are free of prior art.
The issued patents that have PCT priority shall not expire before 2039. Akelos and Cornell have a joint venture to produce HCN1-selective molecules under an exclusive intellectual property license from Cornell University. Numerous preclinical tests on the lead compounds have demonstrated their effectiveness and safety.
To date, the business has received non-dilutive funding totaling $11.7 million for the technology, including a $3.67 million fast-track award from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Akelos is well-positioned to continue developing its HCN1 selective inhibitors for the treatment of neuropathic pain with this investment and intellectual property protection.
We also discussed some of the difficulties involved in creating a novel pharmacological therapy, such as the stringent testing and legislative approval procedures necessary to introduce a new drug to the market. The Akelos team spoke about their dedication to conducting their research in accordance with the highest ethical and scientific standards and their attempts to cooperate closely with regulatory organizations to guarantee the security and efficacy of their inhibitors.
One aspect of Akelos that caught our attention is their dedication to creating a medication that particularly targets the HCN1 channels, which are well recognised to be important in the inhibition of chronic pain. Akelos’ inhibitors have the potential to offer more effective pain management with fewer adverse effects than conventional painkillers since they specifically block these channels.
Overall, the Akelos team’s creative approach to pain management and their commitment and love for their work were better understood as a result of our conversation with them. We’re interested to see what Akelos’ future holds and how they will affect the lives of people who experience neuropathic pain.
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