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Andreas Beutler, M.D., receives $3.2 million NIH grant to study gene therapy for chronic pain

andreas beutlerAndreas Beutler, M.D. (HEMO ’09), Division of Medical Oncology, Mayo Clinic in Rochester, received a $3.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the use of gene therapy to control chronic pain.

Recent studies have shown that chronic pain can be controlled with gene therapy – delivering a therapeutic gene into the cells responsible for pain signaling. These cells are found in small structures called dorsal root ganglia, located adjacent to the spinal cord.

andreas beutlerDr. Beutler is collaborating with interventional radiologist Timothy Maus, M.D. (MED ’81, R-D ’85), Department of Radiology, to develop a technique to deliver a gene therapy vector to dorsal root ganglia using clinical computed tomography and MRI technology. They plan to use large-animal models to determine the most viable treatment approach for future development in humans, with a special focus on patients with severe pain from osteoarthritis and advanced cancer.

Dr. Beutler also received a 2017 Translational Product Development Fund award from the University of Minnesota Clinical and Translational Science Institute and the Mayo Clinic Center for Clinical and Translational Science in conjunction with the Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics to support research on a novel neurotoxin treatment for chronic pain. Drs. Beutler and Maus recently demonstrated pain control in large-animal models for more than half a year following a single image-guided spinal delivery of this neurotoxin treatment.

“We pan to seek Investigational New Drug approval from the FDA,” says Dr. Beutler. “We are aiming at first-in-human clinical trials in the U.S. in the next two to three years.”

Dr. Beutler is an associate professor of oncology, and Dr. Maus is a professor of radiology in the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science.

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