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ion channels in cell membrane

Companies to Explore Structure-based Drug Discovery (SBDD) Approaches to Ion Channels through Strategic Technology Collaboration

Collaboration combines Sosei Heptares’ leading structure-based drug design platform with Metrion Biosciences’ ion channel expertise

Metrion Biosciences

Metrion Biosciences is a specialist ion-channel contract research organization and drug discovery business. The company provides customers with access to a range of high-quality ion channel assays on a fee-for-service...

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  • Ion channels represent a large but under-exploited class of drug targets beyond G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) 
  • Joint drug discovery program to focus on a single ion channel that is a well-validated target for neurological diseases

CAMBRIDGE, UK and TOKYO, JAPAN — February 1, 2021 — Metrion Biosciences Limited (“Metrion”), the specialist ion channel CRO and drug discovery company and Sosei Group Corporation (“the Company”; TSE: 4565), the international biopharmaceutical group, announce they will apply Sosei Heptares’ world-leading structure-based drug design (SBDD) expertise and platform to ion channels for the first time through a new strategic collaboration.

Ion channels are a class of integral membrane proteins that regulate the flow of ions across the cell membrane as a means of conducting signals between cells and their environment. They are well established drug targets, particularly in neurological and cardiovascular diseases, but many remain undrugged or poorly drugged, and may be tractable to structure-based approaches. 

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The collaboration aims to demonstrate the potential of Sosei Heptares’ SBDD technologies to address disease-associated ion channels and work towards establishing a leadership position in this area, in a similar way that it has done for G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs).

As a first step, Sosei Heptares and Metrion will combine their respective capabilities in a drug discovery program to identify novel, highly specific drug leads for further development against a single ion channel associated with neurological diseases. 

Metrion will contribute intellectual property, know-how and use of screening models for the nominated ion channel target. Sosei Heptares will apply its technologies for structure determination studies and SBDD. Sosei Heptares will have exclusive, full global rights to all molecules identified and directed to the targets for development by Sosei Heptares. No further financial details are disclosed.

Andrew Southan, chief executive officer of Metrion Biosciences, commented: “Resolving the 3D structure of ion channel proteins has great potential to accelerate the discovery of potent, selective new drugs targeting this highly important class of human proteins. This opportunity to combine Metrion Biosciences’ depth of target class knowledge and assay expertise with Sosei Heptares’ Structure-Based Drug Discovery capabilities has considerable potential to achieve scientific and commercial breakthroughs in this field.  On behalf of the entire Metrion team I would like to thank Sosei Heptares for selecting Metrion Biosciences for this work and we look forward to a successful alliance.”

Rob Cooke, chief technology officer of Sosei Heptares, added: “We are extremely pleased to enter this collaboration with Metrion in the hugely exciting area of ion channels. Their experience enables us to extend our world-leading expertise in Structure-Based Drug Discovery for GPCRs to other membrane proteins where structural input to drug discovery has been more limited. This strategic technology collaboration is the latest in a series we have made with highly innovative companies in recent months designed to strengthen our platform and enhance our discovery and partnering opportunities. In addition to Metrion, these collaborations with Captor Therapeutics in targeted protein degradation and with PharmEnable to access proprietary artificial intelligence-enabled and medicinal chemistry technologies are a key factor to drive our future growth ambitions.”