Traditionally, people in pain are given Opioids—which, although they relieve pain, can have dangerous side effects such as loss of motor function, and addiction. Ocycontin, Vicodin, and other pain relievers are effective in subduing pain, but they are extremely addictive, which causes major problems in families and communities.
The Opioid Crisis is a reality we’re facing now—but what if pain could be treated another way? That’s exactly what Neurocarrus has been working on. Their new drug delivery technology safely disrupts pain signals without possessing addiction-forming qualities. We asked the company’s CEO, Benjamin Pavlik, more about how this works:
How did you become interested in biotech?
BP: After having reconstructive surgery on my knee in college, replacement of ligaments and anchoring with bio-diffusible and titanium screws allowed me to run again. It was an amazing success, but difficult. This experience changed my life in many ways, and I became interested in working on technology that would be useful for others experiencing similar procedures.
When did you decide to start a company, and where did your team get together?
BP: My former PhD advisor and I decided to start a company at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln when we realized the incredible potential for this technology.
How does your technology work?
BP: Neurocarrus has developed an injectable non-opioid pain drug called N-001. N-001 is a novel protein that was synthesized to target key sensory neuron structures called actin. It is designed to disrupt peripheral pain signaling without affecting motor function or causing addiction.
What lessons did you learn transitioning from science to entrepreneurship at IndieBio?
BP: Transitioning from science to entrepreneurship is challenging but rewarding. The communication skill set is different, and it takes time to learn and adjust. Once technical terms are replaced or simplified, sharing science with our greater society enables the research to reach a broader audience to learn and benefit.
How do you think your success as a company would change the healthcare industry?
BP: Our success as a company would change the healthcare industry by providing an alternative to opioids as a front-line pain management solution. This would give millions of Americans who live with pain a less difficult choice and in turn reduce substance abuse.
What milestones are you aiming to hit in the near future?
BP: We are aiming to test N-001 in an advanced animal pain model. A positive preclinical outcome would support clinical trials.