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J&J to Develop Spider Venom Pain Drug With Queensland University

February 17, 2012

Feb. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Johnson & Johnson and the University of Queensland will co-develop drugs using components of spider venom as a treatment for chronic pain.

The maker of Ultram painkillers will work with Queensland’s Institute of Molecular Bioscience drug development program, the university said in a statement. Financial terms of the 12-month project were not disclosed.

Spider venoms have peptides that may “substantially reduce or block the pain,” Richard Lewis, professor at the institute, said in a phone interview.

Chronic pain occurs when the nervous system continues giving signals with no stimulus to cause hurt, and affects 1.5 billion people worldwide, according to the statement. Annual sales of products using University of Queensland technology and licensed by its main research commercialization company are running at A$3 billion ($3.2 billion), it said.

The project team includes Paul Alewood and Glenn King, who has studied spider toxins for more than a decade. Johnson and Johnson’s Corporate Office of Science and Technology will be involved in the project, according to the statement.

An estimated $560 billion is lost annually in the U.S. due to healthcare costs and reduced productivity related to chronic pain, according to the statement.

--Editors: Dave McCombs, Suresh Seshadri

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To contact the reporter on this story: Natasha Khan in Hong Kong at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jason Gale at

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