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Screening Assay for Diagnosing the sensitivity of patients to pain from University of Frankfurt

Organization name

INNOVECTIS Gesellschaft für Innovations-Dienstleistungen mbH



A high-throughput screening assay allows the analysis of two DNA positions of GTP cyclohydrolase 1 (GCH1) gene to predict the sensitivity of patients to pain and their risk of developing chronic pain.


Recent studies indicate that genetic factors may predispose individuals to different reactions to pain and analgetic treatment. Of interest, tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4), an essential cofactor for various proteins, and the enzyme GCH1, which catalyses the rate-limiting step of BH4 synthesis, play a key role in developing pain. In animal models, inhibiting GCH1 decreases nociceptive response, whereas, treatment with BH4 increases the sensitivity to pain and the development of chronic pain.


By genotyping patient probes the correlation between polymorphisms of GCH1 gene and analgesia of patients has been studied. As a result, 15 relevant non-coding single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP’s) have been identified which count for 8 different haplotypes in 94 % of all studied cases. Stepwise regression analysis identified one GCH1 haplotype, with an allelic frequency of 15.4%, as highly associated with low scores for persistent pain.

Further studies at the university hospital in Frankfurt am Main showed that the analysis of two or three SNP already defines the pain protective haplotype with a reliability of 96 resp. 100 %. Based on these findings, a high-throughput screening assay was developed to determine these two or three relevant SNP’s by using pyrosequencing.


  • The sensitivity to acute or chronic pain can be predicted. Patients with high sensitivity to pain need a more intense analgetic treatment especially during or after surgeries involving neural injury or treatment with neurotoxic drugs
  • The risk of patients of developing chronic pain, e.g. after surgeries, can be determined.


  • Diagnosis of sensitivity to pain allows the improvement of analgetic treatment
  • Prior to surgery, an evaluation of someone’s risk of developing chronic pain is possible
  • The screening assay is inexpensive, easy and quick to apply.

Project Status

A high-throughput screening assay for genotyping of the pain protective haplotype has been established.

A patent application for USA and an international application (PCT) were filed. Owner of the patent is the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main.

Licensing or assignment of the technology is possible as well as a cooperation for further development of the invention.


INNOVECTIS Gesellschaft für Innovations-Dienstleistungen mbH
Dr. Otmar Schöller

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