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28 August, 2018 - 22:31 By Kate Sweeney

Metrion Biosciences secures £637k funding

Metrion Biosciences, the specialist ion channel contract research and drug discovery company in Cambridge, has secured £637k funding under the Innovate UK Biomedical Catalyst Primer Award scheme. 

The funding will be used to support further research on orally available potassium channel inhibitors for treatment of psoriasis, a common autoimmune disease for which improved treatments are much needed. 

The project will start in September and focus on the further optimisation of a set of key compounds and their characterisation in disease relevant models.

Granta Park-based Metrion Biosciences was formed in September 2015, following a management buyout of Xention Limited’s contract research business.

The project will start next month (September 2018), and will focus on the further optimisation of a set of key compounds, and their characterisation in disease relevant models. The compounds are taken from the portfolio acquired by Metrion in January this year of more than 2,000 small molecule inhibitors of a voltage-gated potassium channel known to be involved in the development of auto-immune disease.

Metrion has already confirmed the potent in vitro activity of the selected key compounds, and has filed a new patent application covering a series of these active drug leads.

If successful, the project may lead to the selection of one or more novel oral drug candidates suitable for development as potential new therapeutics for the treatment of psoriasis and other auto-immune disorders. The cost of biologics for treatment of a patient with moderate-severe psoriasis is approximately $70K per year, and the global psoriasis drugs market is expected to be valued at $13 billion by 2024 with a CAGR of 7.26% (GlobalData, 2016). 

Dr Keith McCullagh, Chairman, Metrion Biosciences, said: “As well as being a specialist ion channel contract research organisation, Metrion also has valuable intellectual property in the potassium channel field which we are keen to see commercialised. 

The funding received from Innovate UK will enable us to determine the potential value of this novel therapeutic approach to auto-immune conditions. If successful, we will seek appropriate industry partners to fund further development and commercialisation."

Alongside this project, Metrion is also conducting research with its compounds in other auto-immune conditions, partially funded by an Innovate UK Biomedical Catalyst Feasibility Award, announced in February. 

A novel efficacious oral drug at a cost effective price-point has the potential to profoundly reduce healthcare costs.

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Dr Keith McCullagh

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