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Facial Pain Research Foundation Awards Grant

To Dr. Todd Golde For Ongoing Project:

Towards Gene Therapy for Trigeminal Neuralgia 



The Facial Pain Research Foundation is pleased to have approved a research grant to Dr. Todd Golde.  The funding is a continuation of his efforts to find cures for trigeminal neuralgia and related neuropathic pain. His research project is entitled “Towards Gene Therapy for Trigeminal Neuralgia.  The Trustees of the Facial Pain Research Foundation believe that this research has the potential to make a significant difference in the lives of many in pain. 

Todd E. Golde, M.D., Ph.D., is executive director of the Evelyn F. and William L. McKnight Brain Institute of the University of Florida. He oversees neuroscience and neuromedicine research programs across the University of Florida campus. A professor of neuroscience and neurology, Dr. Golde joined the University of Florida faculty in 2009 and became founding director of the university’s Center for Translational Research in Neurodegenerative Disease, which he led until taking charge of the McKnight Brain Institute in December 2016. He is also director of the NIH funded 1Florida Alzheimer’s disease Research Center group of institutions. 

An internationally known expert in the scientific understanding of Alzheimer’s disease, Dr. Golde has published more than 240 papers that have been cited more than 30,000 times, (, and has expanded his leading-edge research to include other neurodegenerative diseases, cancer and even malaria. He is lead investigator for the Facial Pain Research Foundation’s Gene Therapy Research Project, at the University of Florida, to find the cures for TN.  

Focal delivery of rAAV vectors to the trigeminal nerve has a huge upside, the capacity to directly deliver to various places on the trigeminal “waterway” large therapeutic doses of compounds that inhibit/block pain signaling with minimal if any side effects. Perfecting delivery of rAAV to peripheral nerve and trigeminal nerve together with an ability to evaluate a large number of possible biotherapeutic “cargos” encoded within the rAAV vector will enable the development of a gene therapy that they hope will result in a permanent cure for TN. 

The primary objective of this project is to design and synthesize a number of viral vectors directed at specific genes related to pain processing and then determine which of these constructs are the most efficacious in doing so…initially in animals.  Dr. Golde points out that animal testing is an essential requirement mandated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to assess safety in translating a therapeutic strategy from animals to humans.  Further, he posits that in addition to determining safety, this approach should decrease the time needed to discover novel new therapies for the treatment of TN.  Dr Golde’s team will utilize established expertise in  Adeno Associated Virus (AAV) delivery systems to evaluate the effectiveness of these vectors for reducing pain.  

Dr. Golde’s team fully recognizes the need to be substantially more rigorous about monitoring the delivery of the therapeutic to the nerve. Using cargos that are expressed by the rAAV vector and are functionally within nerves, they will evaluate whether there is the ability to block pain in several models including models of trigeminal nerve pain developed by Drs. John Neubert and Rob Caudle at the University of Florida’s McKnight Brain Institute. 



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