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OCT is targeting an aggressive share of the global pain market and will initially target drug development in neuropathic and visceral pain, focusing on chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuralgia (CIPN), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and trigeminal neuralgia.

Current pain treatments consist predominantly of opioids, anti-inflammatory, anti-convulsant and anti-depressant drugs. Many of the medicines used to treat pain are not licensed in pain.  Many millions of people are living with chronic pain every day that is either unresolved by or is resistant to these current treatments, leaving many of them dependent on opioids and the consequences of these.  In the US alone, this number is estimated to be 50 millioni with 60,000 opioid-related deaths in the US in 2020.  There is an urgent need for new, licensed, and effective treatments and regulatory agencies are supporting efforts to address severe, but rare, pain disorders, catalogued as orphan diseases.

Pre-clinical data and a small number of clinical trials in acute, neuropathic, chronic and cancer pain models suggest that receptors of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) play an important role in processing pain and that modulation of the ECS can alleviate pain.

Importantly, clinical trials have also shown that a better understanding of the interplay of various cannabinoids, and their specificity for different pain conditions, is essential to develop targeted pain medications that can effectively help patients.

Adopting an integrated drug discovery process at OCT will ensure that synthetic and natural cannabinoids undergo a thorough process of testing and evaluation in order to understand how they work and confirm that each drug candidate is efficacious and safe. It is expected that each medicine we develop will serve to resolve, not just one, but several severe pain conditions including some rare conditions.  This approach not only allows the company to progress more effectively through focused preclinical stages, but it enables the design of better clinical trials as proof of concept, before targeting larger populations. More importantly, in this way, OCT makes sure that we can benefit patients who may be otherwise overlooked with a life-changing new therapeutic approach.  From a business perspective this is important as rare diseases or orphan status, as it is known, helps OCT to obtain longer market exclusivity where protection would not otherwise be available.