Severe pain is an area of high unmet medical need that affects millions of people across the globe. Despite the need, there has not been a major new innovation in pain treatment in the past 50 years, making it an area that’s ripe for innovation. At Vertex, a global team is working tirelessly across all of our research and development (R&D) sites to lead this innovation. We are building on our understanding of human pain biology to directly target specific proteins with the goal of inhibiting the transmission of pain signals.
To learn more, check out this short video, the next in our Vertex Forward series, Innovating in Pain Research, and see how we’re approaching the problem.
As with all of our work at Vertex, science leads the way. Our pain program is based on a fundamental understanding from human biology — in this case, our understanding of the nervous system. Genetic studies show some people have specific mutations in certain sodium channel proteins that affect their sensitivity to pain. Our scientists have learned about this family of proteins, and we hope this will allow us to design and deliver precision 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. The team has made significant progress with CF, and it’s been extremely fulfilling to see the impact of our work on people’s lives. Our hope is to do the same for people suffering with pain. David Altshuler, our Chief Scientific Officer, has challenged us to discover new ways to approach pain, and that is our mission.
I’m excited about the pain program because we’ve also worked on sodium channels for about 20 years, and I believe we are now breaking through to apply our expertise to a new medical challenge — and that doesn’t always happen in research. So stay tuned to hear more about our progress. The pandemic hasn’t slowed our work. We’ve found new ways to collaborate and continue the work across multiple time zones because we know people are in need, and we are committed to making an impact.