University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

Laura L. Hunt

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Jan 25, 2011 
Local startup secures option on UWM research
Cook and Langley
UWM Distinguished Professor of  Chemistry James Cook (seated) and Frank Langley, president and CEO of Addiction Therapeutix Inc.

Wauwatosa-based Addiction Therapeutix has obtained exclusive patent option rights for future commercialization of compounds cultivated at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) for the treatment of neuropathic pain. James Cook, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, and other researchers at UWM developed the family of compounds.

The company negotiated the option rights through the WiSys Technology Foundation.

It is the second time Addiction Therapeutix has begun commercialization of compounds from the Cook lab. In 2009, the company worked with the UWM Research Foundation in licensing a family of compounds that appear promising in development of a medication to treat alcoholism.

The compounds involved are derived from a class of drugs called benzodiazepines, which interact with GABA receptors in the brain that control anxiety, paranoia and mood. Cook and his colleagues have demonstrated that the compounds show significant neuropathic pain protection without causing side effects, such as sedation or muscular coordination problems.

In addition, Cook and his lab members have demonstrated in animal studies that no tolerance develops for this new compound as it does for other pain medications, and the potential for addiction is nonexistent or very low.

“We are very excited to work with Dr. Cook and his colleagues – Ross Wang, Ojas Namjosi and Michael Poe – on this promising therapeutic compound for the potential treatment of neuropathic pain,” says Frank Langley, president and CEO of Addiction Therapeutix Inc. “Although there are already FDA-approved drugs currently on the market to treat neuropathic pain, they are not effective for all patients and some have potential adverse side effects.” 

Neuropathic pain results from nerve fibers that have become damaged or dysfunctional through disease, infection or injury, and is a chronic condition. In the U.S. an estimated 20 million people suffer from this illness, according to the Neuropathy Association.