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Challenge Grunenthal Challenge: Restoring the Normal Function of Neurons After Intoxication by Tetrodotoxin (Fugu fish) or Similar Neurotoxins

Grunenthal Challenge: Restoring the Normal Function of Neurons After Intoxication by Tetrodotoxin (Fugu fish) or Similar Neurotoxins

STATUS: Awarded
Active Solvers: 103
Posted: Sep 27 2017
Challenge ID: 9934035
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Fugu is a well-known Asian delicacy fish, equally famous for its poisonous potential and need to be prepared by trained chefs. The neurotoxin that is present in some of the fish organs binds to the sodium channels in neurons, disrupting its function, and triggering a reaction that leads to muscle paralysis and respiratory block. 

The Seeker is looking for a molecular method to counteract this reaction and restore the normal physiological neuronal function (e.g. via restoration of functional sodium currents) after a Site 1 blocker toxin has bound to the sodium channel. 

This Theoretical Challenge requires only a written proposal.


The preparation of Fugu requires a careful procedure to remove the toxic parts of the animal and it’s a technique that has been mastered and passed from generation to generation between chefs. Consumption of the fish is prohibited if not prepared by a qualified chef. 

If the fish were to be poorly prepared, consumers would be exposed to TTX (tetrodotoxin), a neurotoxin that binds to sites in the sodium channel of neurons, impairing their normal function, and severely affecting muscle function eventually leading to respiratory block. This is a similar response to other know toxins and, to be best of the Seeker’s knowledge, there is no known molecular mechanism that could reverse and restore the normal physiological function of neurons after toxin binding. 

The Seeker is therefore challenging Solvers to submit proposals with methods (e.g. small molecules) to restore the normal neuronal function after intoxication. 

The Seeker is not only interested in mechanisms that involve direct displacement of the toxin. Any other mechanism will be considered if the Solver can convincingly support the hypotheses. Hence, this is a broad call, not only for pharma experts, but also to global experts in the following (but not limited to) fields:

  • Toxins/toxicology experts
  • Natural product chemistry and biology experts
  • Marine scientists
  • Food industry experts
  • Military 

This is a Theoretical Challenge that requires only a written proposal to be submitted. The Challenge award will be contingent upon theoretical evaluation of the proposal by the Seeker. 

To receive an award, the Solvers will have to transfer to the Seeker their exclusive Intellectual Property (IP) rights to the solution. However, the Seeker will be willing to consider a licensing agreement for a partial award if exclusive IP cannot be transferred by the Solver.  

Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on October 29, 2017. Late submissions will not be considered




The Grünenthal Group:

The Grünenthal Group is an entrepreneurial, science-based pharmaceutical company specialized in pain, gout and inflammation.

We are a fully integrated research & development company with a long track record of bringing innovative pain treatments and state-of-the-art technologies to patients. By sustainably investing in our R&D above the industrial average, we are strongly committed to innovation.

In Grünenthal Innovation, we are strongly driven to seek new solutions for patients with severe diseases and high unserved medical need – and make these solutions accessible to patients. We combine an entrepreneurial spirit and our best-in-class science & technology approaches with excellence in execution.

With our fully integrated R&D and networked approach we combine the best of two worlds: we discover and develop NCEs and new technology platforms in-house. At the same time, we access external innovation and knowledge – and are courageous to exploit new paths.

Innovation is more than just the identification and development of a new chemical entity (NCE). We believe innovation involves the combination of approaches including identifying new/different drug modalities, technologies and ways to optimize data handling to bring new therapies to patients.


What is InnoCentive?
InnoCentive is the global innovation marketplace where creative minds solve some of the world's most important problems for cash awards up to $1 million. Commercial, governmental and humanitarian organizations engage with InnoCentive to solve problems that can impact humankind in areas ranging from the environment to medical advancements.

What is a Theoretical IP Transfer Challenge?

An InnoCentive Theoretical Challenge builds upon an idea but is not yet a proof of concept. A solution to a Theoretical Challenge will solidify the Solver's concept with detailed descriptions, specifications and requirements necessary to bringing a good idea closer to becoming an actual product or service.

This Challenge is a Theoretical-IP Transfer Challenge, meaning that Solvers must relinquish all rights to the Intellectual Property (IP) for which they are awarded. By contrast, Theoretical-Licensing means that the Seeker is requesting non-exclusive rights to use the winning solution. For these forms of a Theoretical Challenge, Solvers that do not win retain the rights to their solution after the evaluation period is complete. The Seeker retains no rights to any IP not awarded.

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