- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
This is part of the National Institutes of Health's Initiative to End Addiction Long-Term, also known as the HEAL Initiative, a self-described "aggressive, trans-agency effort to speed scientific solutions to stem the national opioid public health crisis."
Hammock, chief executive of EicOsis, and his team aim to provide a new analgesic solution for neuropathic pain management without the side effects of standard pain therapies.
The novel compound discovered by Hammock has been found effective for the treatment of pain in preclinical animal studies.
Abuse of prescription opioids has contributed in the deaths of more than 400,000 Americans in the last decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This federal grant will help support Phase I and II clinical trials over the next five years with a goal of providing a new effective once-daily, oral, and non-addictive pain medication, said Hammock, who holds a joint appointment with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The drug candidate, known as EC5026, works to inhibit soluble epoxide hydrolase (sEH), a key enzyme in the metabolism of fatty acids. Inhibition of sEH treats pain by stabilizing natural analgesic and anti-inflammatory mediators.
"The pathway we are targeting acts in balance to the other inflammatory pathways that are already a target of the pharmaceutical industry, such as NSAIDs and aspirin," said Alan Buckpitt, principal investigator of the grant and EicOsis vice president of pharmacology. "In fact, sEH inhibitors developed by EicOsis have already shown efficacy against moderate-to-severe pain in horses and dogs, and acts to increase the activity of NSAIDs while reducing their side effects. This grant will help us establish effects on reducing opioid use and addiction liabilities."
NIH launched the HEAL Initiative in April 2018 to improve prevention and treatment strategies for opioid misuse and addiction and enhance pain management. The initiative aims to improve treatments for chronic pain, curb the rates of opioid use disorder and overdose and achieve long-term recovery from opioid addiction.
The two-part grant awarded to EicOsis is a cooperative agreement between EicOsis and NIDA. The first two years ($6 million) establish specific milestones, and the remaining three years ($9 million) are awarded based on the successful completion of these milestones.