Odd-Geir Berge has previously, among many other things, worked as a Senior Principal Scientist, Analgesia at AstraZeneca’s research department in Södertälje. He now works as an independent consultant at OGBConsulting AB. Odd-Geir Berge has been involved in CombiGene’s evaluation of the project. Ingeneious contacted him for an interview regarding CombiGene’s newly established collaboration with the Danish company Zyneyro.
How did you first come into contact with the CombiGenes/Zyneyro pain program?
“I got a call from Karin Agerman, CombiGene’s Chief Scientific Officer, who knew that I have a consulting business in the area of pain. Karin and I know each other from AstraZeneca. Both the project and the form of collaboration that Karin suggested were so interesting that I could not but say yes when she proposed a consulting assignment.”
You yourself have extensive experience from working with pain relief. What would you say are the biggest challenges?
“We know quite a lot about different mechanisms that contribute to acute and chronic pain, but how the mechanisms interact we know less about. It is therefore a challenge to understand how important a specific mechanism is for clinical pain and whether it can be used for pain relief without problematic side effects. In addition, we depend on animal models with limitations that must be understood in order for us to interpret the data correctly. The overall challenge will be to translate between the different levels of the research process – from disease mechanisms in patients to biochemical processes that can be studied in the laboratory, and back via various animal and early studies in
humans and finally to the patients who are the target of the treatment.”
How would you like to comment on the CombiGenes/Zyneyro pain program?
“Chronic pain is a major medical problem where good treatment is lacking for large patient groups. Existing drugs have limitations when it comes to pain relief and often have unacceptable side effects. The need for new forms of treatment is therefore great. The current project is based on a new concept with extensive scientific support, including data from animal models. In the CombiGenes/Zyneyro concept, the pain can be attacked in two ways that complement each other: firstly, with a peptide with a shorter effect and secondly with a gene therapy that opens up the possibility of a lifelong effect. Patients with different needs would thus receive optimally adapted treatment. Being able to increase the likelihood of a successful gene therapy treatment by using the peptide as a screening method is extremely interesting. This is a promising project that gives hope for significant therapeutic progress