PORT ST. LUCIE — Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies announced this week that technology developed at TPIMS has been licensed to Assuage Pharmaceuticals, a 2012 spinout of TPIMS. With over 5 years of research as its foundation, Assuage is moving forward to discover, develop, and commercialize new therapies to address smoking cessation and the addiction to nicotine, and ultimately, the addiction to opioid pain medications through non-opioid analgesics.

The World Health Organization estimates that 1.3 billion people use tobacco products worldwide, and that over 4 million die each year from smoking related diseases. The Center for Disease Control reports 70% of smokers say they want to quit, but 90% of people who try to quit fail. Assuage is dedicated to finding better solutions.

At the core of the research done by Assuage is the discovery of novel first-in-class compounds that have high affinity and exquisite selectivity for the most important nicotine receptor. This high specificity and selectivity could lead to better effectiveness, fewer side effects, and a reduced rate of relapse in people who are trying to quit smoking.

Lawrence Toll, PhD, co-founder and chief scientific officer at Assuage, is director of neuropharmacology at TPIMS and co-discoverer of the nociceptin opioid peptide.
“Our research has focused on developing new alternatives for people who want to stop smoking, but who are addicted to nicotine,” Toll said. “The opportunity to advance the science and help millions of people around the world is most exciting.” Assuage research has been supported in large part by grants from the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Richard Houghten, PhD., founder and CEO at TPIMS added, “Torrey Pines is committed to improving people’s lives by leveraging its extensive library of compounds and proprietary technology to discover compounds that address a range of important diseases and conditions. Assuage Pharmaceuticals is one of our most advanced spin-offs in Florida and we are delighted to have a team of this caliber working to bring these innovative new compounds forward. Smoking remains a global health problem and we believe these compounds can make a real difference.”

Assuage is led by CEO Thomas S. Lytle, M.B.A, an experienced pharmaceutical and biotechnology executive who has held senior commercialization positions at leading companies including Pfizer and Amgen. In addition to the US market, the company is exploring opportunities in international markets including China and Japan.

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