Development of Novel Drugs and Human Cell-Based Screening Platforms to Treat Pain and Opioid Use Disorder
The Research Need
New, safe interventions are needed to combat opioid misuse and addiction and to treat pain. Scientists need more accurate research models to understand how potential new drugs will affect humans, and they also must identify existing drugs or develop new therapies that could be effective treatments for pain and opioid misuse and addiction.
About the Program
NIH will provide a suite of translational science resources and technical expertise to investigators in the area of pain and addiction. These include:
- Development of tissue chip platforms
- Access to National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) laboratories in the development of induced pluripotent stem cells and 3-D bioprinted tissues to better predict human clinical responses to potential therapeutics
- Pre-clinical development through the NCATS Chemical Genomics Center, the Bridging Interventional Development Gaps and Therapeutics for Rare and Neglected Diseases programs, and the NCATS A Specialized Platform for Innovative Research Exploration (ASPIRE) Design Challenges.
Collaboration Opportunities for Developing Drugs and Human Cell-Based Testing Platforms for Pain, Addiction, and Overdose
This program fosters collaboration among pre-clinical researchers in the extramural community and experts at NCATS to advance knowledge about the underlying biology of pain, addiction, and overdose, develop new interventions to treat them, and determine which interventions are most effective. Collaborators bring a wealth of background knowledge and a starting point for a particular project, and NCATS scientists bring an equivalent wealth of knowledge in translation and the expertise to transform those starting points into useful tools and platforms for drug development.
Opportunities for collaboration fall into two general categories:
- Novel human cell-based screening platforms
- Pharmacological probe and pre-clinical drug development
ASPIRE Design Challenges to Develop Innovative and Catalytic Approaches Towards Solving the Opioid Crisis
The goal of the 2018 NCATS ASPIRE Design Challenges is to generate innovative and catalytic approaches toward solving the opioid crisis through the development of next-generation addiction-free analgesics with new chemistries, data-mining, and analytical tools and technologies, as well as biological assays that will revolutionize discovery, development, and pre-clinical testing of new and safer treatments for pain, opioid use disorder (OUD), and overdose.
This prize competition was implemented through concurrent companion design challenges in these areas:
- Integrated chemistry database
- Electronic synthetic chemistry portal
- Predictive algorithms
- Biological assays
- Combination of two or more areas
Tissue Chips to Model Nociception, Addiction, and Overdose
This initiative will use human tissue to create microphysiological systems (MPS), also known as tissue chips or “organs-on-chips,” to understand the mechanisms underlying nociception (the nervous system’s response to painful stimuli), pain-relevant and addiction-relevant mechanisms, overdose, and OUD-related pathophysiologies. These MPS models will then be used to test new therapies to improve pain management and treat opioid addiction. The use of MPS will allow reliable pre-clinical testing of potential therapeutics and inform clinical trial design.
Through the Helping to End Addiction Long-termSM Initiative, or NIH HEAL InitiativeSM, NIH awarded 5 research grants, which total approximately $158.2 million.
The funded research is divided into two phases. In the first phase, the researchers will develop and validate proposed tissue chips that model nociception, pain, addiction, or OUD-like pathophysiologies. In the second phase, the researchers will test the functionality of these tissue chips to understand the pain pathway mechanisms, identify new treatments, or improve treatment efficacy.
- Tulane University – Louisiana
- University of California, Los Angeles – California
- University of Central Florida – Florida
- University of Pittsburgh – Pennsylvania
- University of Texas, Dallas – Texas
Participating NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices
- National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS)
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
- National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease (NIAMS)
- National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)
- Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
- National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
- Announcement of Collaboration Opportunities for Developing Drugs and Human Cell-Based Testing Platforms for Pain, Addiction and Overdose
- Slide Presentation on Developing Drugs and Testing Platforms for Pain, Addiction and Overdose in Collaboration with NCATS PDF | 2.5 MB
- Overview of NCATS Call for Proposals for Collaboration for the NIH HEAL Initiative PDF | 208.6 KB
ASPIRE Design Challenges
- Announcement of the NCATS ASPIRE Design Challenges to Develop Innovative and Catalytic Approaches Towards Solving the Opioid Crisis NIH Guide Notice (NOT-TR-18-031)
- Challenge 1: Integrated Chemistry Database for Translational Innovation in Pain, Opioid Use Disorder and Overdose
- Challenge 2: Electronic Synthetic Chemistry Portal for Translational Innovation in Pain, Opioid Use Disorder and Overdose
- Challenge 3: Predictive Algorithms for Translational Innovation in Pain, Opioid Use Disorder and Overdose
- Challenge 4: Biological Assays for Translational Innovation in Pain, Opioid Use Disorder and Overdose
- Challenge 5: Integrated Solution for Translational Innovation in Pain, Opioid Use Disorder and Overdose