Zinc Finger Protein Transcription Factors for Repression of Pain Genes

Case ID:

This invention proposes the use of zinc finger protein transcription factors (ZFP-TFs) technology to repress the expression of specific genes associated with chronic pain. The Zinc finger technology allows for the inhibition of gene expression with high affinity and specificity, and is purposed here to be used against Vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A), a known chronic pain-associated target gene.

Zinc finger protein transcription factor (ZFP-TF) technology is a method by which specific sequences of the genome can be targeted and silenced or edited. This technology has obvious gene therapy implications and is proposed to be delivered by adeno-associated virus (AAV). With this AAV delivery of ZFP-TF to inhibit VEGF-A, there is a possibility of developing a “switchable” approach that could be switched “on” or “off” by the presence of a small molecule.

Vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A) has been a known molecular target in the establishment and maintenance of chronic pain. Additionally, disrupting VEGF-A signaling has been demonstrated to have significant anti-nociceptive effects in chronic neuropathic pain models. The current course of treatment for many patients suffering from chronic pain includes prescription opioids, which have significant known risk for addiction and overdose.


  • A gene therapy-based treatment for chronic pain that reduces opioid dependency


  • Far less adverse side-effects than opioid drugs typically used to treat chronic pain
  • Less addictive potential than opioids
  • Promising potential effectiveness with “switchable” approach
Patent Information:
Contact For More Information:
Mitch Graffeo
Sr. Licensing Manager - COM-T
The University of Arizona
Lead Inventor(s):
Rajesh Khanna
Aubin Moutal
Casey Case
Manal Mehta