Drug free chronic pain treatment from Galway researchers wins €1 million prize

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Galway Daily news Chronic pain treatment SFI prize

A team of Galway based researchers who have developed a novel, drug free treatment for chronic pain have won €1 million to further their research with the SFI Future Innovator Prize.

Dr Alsion Liddy and her project team at NUIG were announced as the first winners of the Future Innovator Prize this week for their Hydrobloc chronic pain treatment.

Chronic neuropathic pain suffers live with daily agony that severely impacts their quality of life.

It’s estimated that 300,000 people in Ireland alone suffer from Neuropathic pain, which is caused by damage or disease affecting the sensory nervous system.

The Hydrobloc nanogel developed by Dr Liddy and her team delivers long term drug free pain relief without side effects that can come from extensive medication use.

Dr Liddy said winning the SFI Future Innovator has been pivotal in allowing them to progress their research.

“We are honoured to win the final prize and have no doubt after being through the programme that there is a world class level of innovative talent in Ireland which will benefit our country in the future.”

She added that a unique part about taking part in the Future Innovator programme has been the emphasis it places on societal impact of research.

This has meant getting feedback on their treatment, not just from doctors, but also from patients.

“By incorporating this Public and Patient Involvement paradigm we have integrated the voice of the patient into Hydrobloc and ensured that the core goal is the development of a treatment that will improve the lives of patients living with debilitating pain.”

“The programme has also introduced us to an exciting network of brilliantly innovative scientists and importantly has opened the door to investors.”

The SFI Future Innovator Prize, funded by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation through Science Foundation Ireland, is part of an overall government plan to cultivate challenge-based funding in Ireland.

This prize challenges the country’s best and brightest unconventional thinkers and innovators to create novel, potentially disruptive technologies in collaboration with societal stakeholders and end-users.

The prize was awarded by Minister Heather Humphreys this week, who praised them for “leading the way with this much needed novel and innovative treatment for chronic pain.”

“At this time, as we battle an unprecedented pandemic we clearly need disruptive science and technology to help us find solutions,” the Minister added.