Medical Need

Chronic pain is a long-term, often debilitating condition estimated to affect as much as 20% of the adult population. However, lack of effect treatments that do not have severe side effects means that there is a huge unmet medical need.

Chronic pain can be caused by a wide variety of diseases including spinal degeneration, diabetic neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, osteoarthritis, stomach ulcer, chronic arthritis, fibromyalgia, diabetic neuropathy, and cancer. Inflammatory chronic pain is associated with tissue damage and the resulting inflammation, whereas neuropathic pain results from damage to neurons in the peripheral and central nervous systems.

Depending on the severity of the pain chronic pain is routinely treated with non-opioid drugs (non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs) often in conjunction with adjuvants (anti-convulsants and anti-depressants). Opioids are considered highly effective for severe pain, and are widely prescribed: an estimated 650,000 prescriptions for opioids issued per day in the U.S., even though they have limited efficacy in neuropathic pain. Despite their wide use, opioids have severe side effects including emesis, itching and the development of tolerance. Their major drawback is that opioids are highly addictive, and their widespread use has led to the so-called ‘opioid crisis’ of overuse and abuse of opioids drugs.

Our mission is to develop drugs with similar potency to opioids that do not lead to addiction.

Market Opportunity

The incidence of chronic pain is huge, with estimates of >50M cases in the U.S. and 100M in the EU. High impact pain, which is often treated with opioids due to its severity, has been attributed to around 40% of all chronic pain cases. The chronic pain market was worth $70B in 2017 and is estimated to grow to over $100B by 2024, growth primarily driven by the rising prevalence of chronic conditions, surging geriatric population, and increasing government support toward chronic pain management.

Since current analgesics are either not adequately effective forms of pain relief, or have severe drawbacks such as addiction, there is a considerable opportunity for novel effective analgesics that do not lead to addiction.

Algonist Approach

As an experienced group of scientists and drug developers we are using multiple approaches to identify promising new drug candidates for emerging chronic pain targets with high interest within the Pharmaceutical industry. Promising drug candidates will be developed by Algonist.


Algonist is employing a dual discovery approach to identify novel small molecule targeting chronic pain targets with high therapeutic potential.

In collaboration with leading pharmacologists at the University of Pécs, Hungary, we are investigating the potential of proprietary small molecule compounds where in vitro and in vivo proof-of-concept has been demonstrated in models of chronic pain.

In addition, through a collaboration with Calyxha Biotechnologies GmbH, we are applying their powerful, integrated, in silico approach to drug discovery for our targets. Based on big data analysis and high throughput chemical library screening, combined with structure prediction of protein targets we are developing novel panels of proprietary small molecules.