Novel inhibitor of neuropathic pain

Reference number 5884

Sectors: Pharmaceuticals

Industries: Pharmaceuticals

Proposed use

Neuropathic pain is a chronic pain condition initiated or caused by a primary lesion or dysfunction of the nervous system. The prevalence of neuropathic pain is estimated to be 6-8% in the adult population and accounts for up to 25% of all individuals with chronic pain.

Problem addressed

A major reason for the failure to develop effective drug therapy for neuropathic pain has been the difficulty in identifying targets that were truly related to neuropathic pain. The novel approach developed by Dr Okuse and Prof. Rice, disrupting TLPQ-21/ gC1qR interaction by neutralising antibodies, may have promise as a drug target for controlling neuropathic pain.

Technology overview

The team identified gC1qR as the receptor of TLQP-21, a VGF-derived neuropeptide,  and found that their direct interaction induces an increase of intracellular calcium in rat macrophages which finally leads to mechanical hypersensitivity in rats. The team then used blocking antibodies against gC1qR which successfully inhibited the response of macrophages to TLPQ-21 and resulted in a delayed onset of nerve injury-associated mechanical hypersensitivity in vivo.


  • Our approach focuses on activation of macrophages, previously not studied in the context of neuropathic pain
  • VGF has been shown to be upregulated in almost all neuropathic pain models, thus it is the key molecule in neuropathic pain development, unlike many other molecules involved in a specific type of neuropathic pain
  • This approach is effective on two points, blocking 1) infiltration of macrophages to sensory nerves and 2) activation of macrophages which leads to secretion of a specific cytokine and hypersensitisation of nociceptive sensory neurons
  • Antibodies are specific to targets and tend to show less side effects compared to small molecules

Intellectual property information

Patents: US9718879, EP2807191

Link to published paper

Chen, Y. C., Pristerá, A., Ayub, M., Swanwick, R. S., Karu, K., Hamada, Y., Rice A.C. & Okuse, K. (2013). Identification of a receptor for neuropeptide VGF and its role in neuropathic pain. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 288(48), 34638-34646.

Contact us about this technology


Edmond Yau

Industry Partnerships and Commercialisation Executive – Faculty of Natural Sciences

Edmond joined Imperial in February 2022 as an Industry Partnerships and Commercialisation Executive. He primarily takes care of IP and licensing cases from the Faculty of Natural Sciences. Prior to joining Imperial, Edmond worked in Royal College of Art as Intellectual Property Manager who assists with queries regarding intellectual property especially patents and copyrights. Edmond has rich experience in transferring technology from tertiary institution to private sector before he moved to the UK. Edmond worked in the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and the Chinese University of Hong Kong for more than a decade handling around several hundreds of inventions and thousands of patent applications/patents from Faculties of Engineering, Science and Medicine. He was also responsible for advising on IP strategy, patent prosecution, and the resolution of IP ownership. In addition to this, Edmond was in charge of the invention disclosure process, patent prosecution as well as licensing negotiations. He handled various types of agreements, including confidentiality, licensing, joint-ownership and royalty sharing agreements. Edmond is a patent agent by training (qualified in the People Republic of China in 2016), with his first degree in Chemical Engineering and a Master degree in Laws specialised in IP Laws from the […]

Contact Edmond

[email protected]

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