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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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« The Past Twenty Years of Drug Development, Via the Literature | Main | It Doesn't Repeat? Who's Interested? »

November 11, 2013

Another Pain Drug Wipes Out

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Posted by Derek

Pain has been a horrendous therapeutic area for drug discovery. That might be because there are a number of very old compounds (opiates, etc.) that most certainly can knock down many kinds of pain, but at the cost of many undesirable side effects. Trying to (1) find drugs without those problems and (2) find drugs that treat other kinds of pain has been nightmarish.

Add another company to the list of blowups in this field. Zalicus (formerly CombinatoRx, which had its own problems) has announced today that two Phase II trials have completely come up empty for them. Z160 was a calcium channel blocker, and it does not work. Coming on the heels of a big clinical failure last year for them, the company's stock is getting driven down into the ground, and that's after a recent 1-for-6 reverse split they did to keep the company listed.

Comments (14) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Clinical Trials


1. pgwu on November 11, 2013 10:22 AM writes...

Too bad. I liked their earlier combinatorial screen method.

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2. Anonymous on November 11, 2013 10:22 AM writes...

At least I applaud them for having the courage to terminate these programs, rather than betting the house on Phase 3 as many pharma companies would.

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3. Anonymous on November 11, 2013 10:43 AM writes...

Not much luck for small Cambridge companies this year.

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4. tED on November 11, 2013 10:59 AM writes...

Which is the fairest of them all among the pain drugs currently in the pipeline? Any new mechanisms?

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5. Petros on November 11, 2013 11:36 AM writes...

Nav1.7 is the other big hope.

Convergence Pharmaceuticals is pursuing both NaV1.7 and Ca2.2, the mechanism of Z-160.(Both are ex GSK pain projects)

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6. Petros on November 11, 2013 11:36 AM writes...

Nav1.7 is the other big hope.

Convergence Pharmaceuticals is pursuing both NaV1.7 and Ca2.2, the mechanism of Z-160.(Both are ex GSK pain projects)

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7. Anonymous on November 11, 2013 11:55 AM writes...

To just clear up the ambiguity in the previous post; Cav2.2 is the target of Z-160 (not also Nav1.7)

Convergence does have a compound in the clinic for Cav2.2. I think they are the only other one that does although several companies have patents so studied pre-clinic.

Convergence also have a compound in the clinic for the sodium channel, Nav1.7, as do many others. I think the target validation for Nav1.7 is better than for Cav2.2.

There are other even more interesting targets coming through pre-clinical research for pain though.

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8. tED on November 11, 2013 12:08 PM writes...

Does Z160's failure spell doom for Cav2.2 drugs as a class for neuropathic pain or people still believe this is cmpd/trial specific?

Placebo is often a pain (drug) killer (sorry, pun intended)...wonder if Z-160 is another victim.

What do people in pain circle think about the NGFab stuff?

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9. MTK on November 11, 2013 1:38 PM writes...


Oh, I don't know about that.

There's been at least 6 IPO's this year for Cambridge based small companies.

That doesn't even include a couple out in Watertown that had IPO's and one in Natick that's planning one this year.

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10. Anonymous on November 11, 2013 8:58 PM writes...

I wonder if their failure has anything to do with the fact that their are no scientists listed under management or the board of directors on their website?

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11. Pennpenn on November 11, 2013 10:06 PM writes...

@Anon 10- If it was a case of the drug in question not working as planned, then it wouldn't matter if they had a ten dozen scientist-directors on the payroll, it just wouldn't work.

Actual biological functions generally doesn't care about boards of directors.

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12. SMILES on November 12, 2013 2:34 AM writes...

Is that the one (though reformulated) that Merck returned it back to Neuromed a few years ago?

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13. Anonymous on November 12, 2013 5:28 AM writes...

#12 you mean that piece of garbage with 4 phenyls in it?

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14. petros on November 12, 2013 5:55 AM writes...

Re #12
Z160 looks to be 1-(4-benzhydrylpiperazin-1-yl)-3,3-diphenylpropan-1-one

Convergence's compounds look to be based on a tricyclic structure

re #8
the target is validated, although ziconitide is given intracethecally

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