The first patient

Like many breakthroughs in the history of medicine, relief of neuropathic pain after treatment with an EGFR-inhibitor was a serendipitous discovery.

“Martin”, a 63-year-old man, was referred to the oncology clinic for treatment of metastatic and locally recurrent rectal cancer. The pelvic recurrence affected his sciatic nerve...

Read the full story of the first patient

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) has been described as the most painful chronic pain condition.  

It is an intense form of chronic pain that usually starts by affecting a single limb. CRPS can develop spontaneously or arise after an injury. The pain is, however, always out of proportion to the severity of the initial injury.

CRPS is uncommon and therefore classified as an orphan disease. Its mechanism is poorly understood and there are few effective treatment options.

More about CRPS and Kristin's story

A third patient: watch Nora’s journey with neuropathic pain due to failed back surgery

Other publications

Further prospective systematic observations from an exploratory study in patients with neuropathic cancer pain.

Positive signals in a randomized, phase-II placebo-controlled proof of concept trial using EGFR-inhibition in CRPS and compressed nerve injury.

Ten institutions have reported dramatic relief of neuropathic pain after treatment with EGFR-inhibitors in >100 patients.

In summary, AKIGAI founders Christian Kersten and Marte Cameron believe that EGFR-inhibitors could ultimately help 3 out of 4 patients with neuropathic pain. “We see almost immediate effects, sometimes like turning a switch, without the need for dose titration and without central nervous system side effects or problems related to abuse and addiction”.

Why hasn’t anyone seen it before?

A question that is frequently asked. Millions of cancer patients around the globe have been treated with EGFR-inhibitors during the past 20 years.

So why hasn’t anyone reported this before?

Perfect alignment: A series of circumstances, vigilance, clinical acumen, and serendipity.

The COIN and NORDIC VII trials (which together included over 2000 patients with colorectal cancer) reported significant reduction in peripheral neuropathy among the patients treated with an EGFR-inhibitor.

Actually, physicians from at least 10 different hospitals have reported the same observations.

Academic drug trials using available EGFR-inhibitors are deterred by high drug prices while the market license holders of these drugs may be concerned that their cancer markets could be cannibalized by cheaper pain drugs.

Neither academic medicine nor big pharma will therefore forward this innovation in its current state. For this reason, the AKIGAI founders established a biotech start-up to bring the pre-clinical and clinical findings from bench and bedside, back to patients suffering from neuropathic pain.

How to contribute to AKIGAI's development?