In this webcast, Cellectricon has invited three of our esteemed scientific advisors for a panel discussion on the importance of non-neuronal cells in chronic pain drug discovery. In a discussion led by Paul Karila, Head of Drug Discovery at Cellectricon, Dr. Franziska Denk, Professor Camilla Svensson and Dr. Christian Vægter shared their thoughts and perspectives on how exploring non-neuronal cells for pain drug discovery can represent an opportunity to increase clinical success.


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The webcast covers three main themes:

  • What can we learn from other disease areas, such as immunology and neurodegeneration?
  • What non-neuronal cell types are of importance for chronification of pain?
  • Challenges and current developments in the clinic for chronic pain and neuroinflammation


In this webcast, Cellectricon was together with our scientific advisors Professor Camilla Svensson, Dr. Franziska Denk and Dr. Christian Vægter looking beyond the neuron and discussing the importance of non-neuronal cells in the chronification and manifestation of pain. Taking into account the perspectives and research experiences from the advisors, cell types such as astrocytes, microglia, macrophages, satellite glial cells and osteoclasts were discussed. In addition, we examined how novel in vitro models consisting of co-cultures of neurons and these non-neuronal cells can be applied in a drug discovery context, to identify drug candidates that are changing the trajectory of the disease progression in neuroinflammation and chronic pain.

We concluded the webcast by an outlook where we together discussed how integrating advances made in in vitro modelling with learnings from other disease areas, and other indications such as neurodegeneration, may provide better clinical success for future pain drugs.

Presented by:

Camilla Svensson, PhD
Professor in Cellular and Molecular Pain Physiology,
Karolinska Institutet, Sweden

Professor Svensson obtained her PhD at UC San Diego, where she also held a postdoctoral research position at the Department of Medicine. She subsequently moved on to Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden, where she today holds a position as Professor in Cellular and Molecular Pain Physiology and research group leader for Molecular Pain research at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology. Her research is focused on investigating the role of neuroinflammation in the peripheral and the central nervous system, with particular focus on pain mechanisms in conditions with joint inflammation and autoimmunity, such as rheumatoid arthritis.


Christian Vægter, PhD
Associate Professor at the Department of Biomedicine,
Aarhus University, Denmark

Dr. Vægter obtained his PhD in Molecular Neuroscience at the University of Copenhagen. He is currently holding a position at Aarhus University as associate professor and research group leader. Dr. Vægter has also performed research at the Rowett Research Institute, UC San Francisco, Yale Medical School and Columbia University. His current research focus is the glial cells of the peripheral nervous system, particularly the satellite glial cells and the Schwann cells, and how these cells interact with neurons to modulate their functions in health and disease. Dr. Vægter is affiliated DANDRITE, the Nordic-EMBL Partnership for Molecular Medicine, and is a course leader and passionate teacher in Biochemistry and Neuroscience, engaged in inspiring the next generation of researchers and medical doctors.


Franziska Denk, DPhil
Senior Lecturer at the Wolfson Centre for Age-Related Diseases, 
King’s College London, United Kingdom

Dr. Denk studied Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford and completed her DPhil there in 2009. She is currently a Senior Lecturer at Wolfson Centre for Age-Related Diseases, King’s College London, where she and her research group work on neuroimmune interactions and epigenetic mechanisms in the context of chronic pain. Dr. Denk is passionate about data sharing and interdisciplinary research in an open, positive research culture. She is also looking to promote these values with future generations of scientists, as Co-Director of a recently established Wellcome Trust PhD Training Scheme in Neuro-immune Interactions at King’s College London.


Paul Karila, PhD
Head of Drug Discovery at Cellectricon AB

Paul joined the Cellectricon in 2012 as head of Discovery Services. At Cellectricon, Paul and the team explore novel in vitro concepts for neurodegenerative diseases and chronic pain, which are developed into robust, high precision assays that can be accessed for screening, lead optimization and target discovery. He previously worked at AstraZeneca (AZ) where he held leadership positions at the Departments of Molecular Pharmacology and Neuroscience. At AZ, Paul led teams responsible for target identification/target validation and ion channel and GPCR profiling in LI-LO phase, mainly on analgesia targets. Prior to joining AZ, Paul was a Postdoctoral Fellow at School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, USA, studying neurobiology using electrophysiological methods. He has a PhD in animal physiology from University of Gothenburg, Sweden.