Going through the list of compounds in the clinic to treat pain is a depressing exercise. With the exception of the COX-2 inhibitors and novel ways to deliver opioids, few new approaches have been seen in the past 50 years or more. Ionix Pharmaceuticals Ltd. is stepping into that space with a focus on treatments for inflammatory and neuropathic pain that block peripheral nervous system targets, hoping for selective efficacy without CNS side effects.

The formation of the company marks the convergence of interests between scientific founder John Wood of University College London and Apax Partners. Wood, who had done a 12-year stint at the Wellcome Foundation and the Sandoz Institute for Medical Research, had been working on the discovery of ion channel receptors specific to the PNS while at the university, and was interested in commercializing his work, according to President and CEO Andrew Sandham.