Solace Pharma Closes Boston-Area Office After Pain Treatment Fails in Clinical Trial

Xconomy Boston — 

Solace Pharmaceuticals has quietly shuttered its office in Cambridge, MA, near the team of biologists and venture capitalists who formed the startup in 2006 to develop new treatments for pain, company CEO Eliot Forster confirmed for Xconomy.

The firm, which has raised $15 million in venture capital, is now operating from its remaining office in Canterbury, UK, Forster says. Three full-time employees in Boston were let go, but two of them have remained involved in the startup as consultants. The company now has four full-time employees and will continue its strategy of relying heavily on consultants and contract research organizations to support its operations, Forster says.

Solace closed its office at Four Cambridge Center in late November, after it learned during the previous month that its lead anti-pain pill failed in a mid-stage clinical trial, according to Forster. The drug, dubbed SLC022, was intended to treat a painful complication of shingles called post-herpetic neuralgia. But the Phase IIa clinical trial, which enrolled 154 patients, showed that the oral drug was not significantly more effective in treating pain than a placebo (which is commonly a sugar pill).

The drug was the most advanced of the company’s pipeline of small molecules for blocking cellular proteins involved in pain responses. The company’s founders include a team of prominent pain biologists led by Clifford Woolf, the director of neurobiology at Children’s Hospital in Boston, who discovered the role of a gene called “GCH1” in pain. The gene encodes the production of a protein that is abundant in people suffering from pain, and the firm is researching molecules that can inhibit those proteins to ease peoples’ aches.

Woolf teamed with Boston’s PureTech Ventures in 2006 to form Solace. Forster, a former Pfizer executive, joined the startup as CEO when it closed its $15 million Series A round in April 2007, with investments from PureTech, Waltham, MA-based … Next Page »

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