Vertex Forward: Innovating in Pain Research

Sep 14, 2021

Vertex Forward: Innovating in Pain Research

At Vertex, we think about pain, especially severe pain, as a major societal burden and an area with huge unmet need. Severe pain affects millions of people across the globe, yet there hasn’t been significant innovation in pain treatment in decades. This makes it an area that’s ready for a transformation. At Vertex, a global team is working tirelessly across all of our research and development (R&D) sites to lead this effort for our industry. Our vision is to alleviate needless suffering and improve quality of life for people with moderate to severe pain in both the acute and chronic settings. This is aspirational, but we believe it’s achievable.

This month, in recognition of Pain Awareness Month, we are raising public awareness of pain and pain management challenges that many individuals face. To learn more about pain and our approach, check out this short video from our Vertex Forward series, Innovating in Pain Research.

As with all of our work at Vertex, we aim to tackle our diseases at their core. Our approach to pain is based on a fundamental understanding of how sensory nerves conduct pain signals in humans. We know from human genetic studies that people who carry mutations in certain sodium channel genes show altered sensitivity to pain and we validated our approach in the clinic. Over the last 20 years, our scientists have developed a deep understanding of this family of ion channel proteins and how to specifically inhibit their function. And we believe our approach will allow us to deliver unique precision pain medicines to patients.

I’ve spent more than 20 years of my career at Vertex. Many of those years were dedicated to cystic fibrosis (CF) research where we’ve seen how targeting the underlying cause of disease can impact people’s lives. Our hope is to apply many of the lessons we learned in our CF journey to transform lives for people suffering with pain. David Altshuler, our Chief Scientific Officer, has challenged us to discover a new way to approach pain management, and that is our mission.