Atlas Translational PhD Program

Development of an mRNA firetruck to promote multi-targeted individualized mRNA therapy for chronic pain recovery

Scientific background

Chronic pain affects 10 to 20% of the US population and dramatically impacts patients‘ life quality. Current pain medications show limited efficacy and induce severe side effects such as toxicity or addiction. Therefore, there is an urgent unmet medical need to identify novel drug targets and non-opioid pain therapies

PhD project description

In this project, we aim to better understand the neuro-immune interaction during chronification and resolution of pain. This knowledge will lead to the identification of novel biomarkers and the development of individualized combinatorial mRNA therapies for chronic pain recovery.

Required profile of candidate 

  • Master degree in the field of immunology or neuroimmunology.

  • Knowledge of cellular and molecular biology and neuroimmunology.

  • Experience with cellular, biochemical and molecular assays.

  • Experience with experimental in vivo procedures and models of inflammatory diseases desirable.

  • High standard of spoken and written English with the ability to write scientific study reports on the experiments and studies performed.

  • Flexibility, scientific curiosity, and commitment to successfully meet challenges.

  • High level of organization, well-structured and precise way of working.

  • Willingness to take over responsibility, as well as to work in a team.

Publications relevant to the project

  • Abdus-Saboor I, Fried NT, Lay M, Burdge J, Swanson K, Fischer R, Jones J, Dong P, Cai W, Guo X, Tao YX, Bethea J, Ma M, Dong X, Ding L, Luo W. Development of a Mouse Pain Scale Using Sub-second Behavioral Mapping and Statistical Modeling. Cell Rep. 2019 Aug 6;28(6):1623-1634.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2019.07.017. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2019.07.017

  • Bethea JR, Fischer R. Role of Peripheral Immune Cells for Development and Recovery of Chronic Pain. Front Immunol. 2021 Feb 22;12:641588. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2021.641588

  • Del Rivero T, Fischer R, Yang F, Swanson KA, Bethea JR. Tumor necrosis factor receptor 1 inhibition is therapeutic for neuropathic pain in males but not in females. Pain. 2019 Apr;160(4):922-931. doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001470. doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001470

  • Fischer R, Padutsch T, Bracchi-Ricard V, Murphy KL, Martinez GF, Delguercio N, Elmer N, Sendetski M, Diem R, Eisel ULM, Smeyne RJ, Kontermann RE, Pfizenmaier K, Bethea JR. Exogenous activation of tumor necrosis factor receptor 2 promotes recovery from sensory and motor disease in a model of multiple sclerosis. Brain Behav Immun. 2019 Oct;81:247-259. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2019.06.021

  • Fischer R, Sendetski M, Del Rivero T, Martinez GF, Bracchi-Ricard V, Swanson KA, Pruzinsky EK, Delguercio N, Rosalino MJ, Padutsch T, Kontermann RE, Pfizenmaier K, Bethea JR. TNFR2 promotes Treg-mediated recovery from neuropathic pain across sexes. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 Aug 20;116(34):17045-17050. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1902091116

  • Hanuscheck N, Schnatz A, Thalman C, Lerch S, Gärtner Y, Domingues M, Bitar L, Nitsch R, Zipp F, Vogelaar CF. Growth-Promoting Treatment Screening for Corticospinal Neurons in Mouse and Man. Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2020 Nov;40(8):1327-1338. doi: 10.1007/s10571-020-00820-7

  • Hanuscheck N, Thalman C, Domingues M, Schmaul S, Muthuraman M, Hetsch F, Ecker M, Endle H, Oshaghi M, Martino G, Kuhlmann T, Bozek K, van Beers T, Bittner S, von Engelhardt J, Vogt J, Vogelaar CF, Zipp F. Interleukin-4 receptor signaling modulates neuronal network activity. J Exp Med. 2022 Jun 6;219(6):e20211887. doi: 10.1084/jem.20211887.

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