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Disease Pain Management
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Pain Management

The cost of chronic pain in the US exceeds $70 billion annually, with direct costs for pain associated with diabetes alone exceeding $10 billion.  Unfortunately long term treatments with opiates for chronic pain have high dropout rates and studies suggest that pain relief by opiates become masked by development of adverse signals between cells that are responsible for tolerance, dependence, addiction and chronic pain.

The Institute is interested in finding compounds that alleviate pain through signal prevention or by resetting the body to restore the natural capacity to alleviate pain.  Pain facilitation, opiate tolerance and addiction can be linked to inter-communication between and neurons and immune cells in the brain.

Green fluorescent proteins are excellent for monitoring the appearance, degradation, location or translocation of proteins in living cells. The sensors may be used to investigate the role of of reactive oxygen species, such as nitric oxide, singlet oxygen or superoxide, as communication agents between neurons and immune cells prior to and following exposure to opiates.Green fluorescent proteins are excellent for monitoring the appearance, degradation, location or translocation of proteins in living cells. The sensors may be used to investigate the role of of reactive oxygen species, such as nitric oxide, singlet oxygen or superoxide, as communication agents between neurons and immune cells prior to and following exposure to opiates.

Molecules isolated from venomous marine cone snails can be used to discover new drug leads for the treatment of chronic pain, depression and drug addiction.Molecules isolated from venomous marine cone snails can be used to discover new drug leads for the treatment of chronic pain, depression and drug addiction.


A compound discovered by scientists at Torrey Pines has recently completed Phase II clinical trials for the treatment of pain.  The rights to the Torrey Pines discovery were initially licensed to Ferring Pharmaceuticals and later transferred to Cara Therapeutics who is currently responsible for compound development.

Principal Investigators are working on the following challenges in the area of Pain Management:

  • Discovering compounds that alleviate pain through signal prevention or by resetting the body to restore the natural capacity to alleviate pain.
  • Refining the biological properties of synthesized cone snail venom to develop more effective pain drugs with fewer side effects than present options like opiates.
  • Developing new therapies for mood disorders, learning and memory disorders, and drug abuse by identifying and characterizing the neurotransmitter systems that underly the behaviors of hormones and how they are released in response to stress.


Dr. Chris Armishaw's interests lie in the use of conotoxins to develop new bioactive ligands as probes for studying the functions of the nervous system, with potential for developing new drugs for treating a host of neurological conditions. Learn more here...

Dr. Colette Dooley uses her training in combinatorial libraries and fluorescent imaging to research new methods for pain relief, addiction and food regulation, and investigates cells' response to stresses which may lead to a better understanding of pain management, chronic pain, addiction, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Learn more here...

Dr. Jay McLaughlin’s research is aimed at examining the neurobiological basis of behavior, focusing on the molecular, pharmacological and neurological mechanisms underlying behavior and psychological disorders.  Learn more here....