The specialist ion channel contract research and drug discovery company in March completed a fully subscribed funding round led by the o2h Ventures Therapeutics Fund, acting via Reyker Securities. Supported by existing shareholders as well the funding round totaled £300,000 ($394,170).
Metrion Biosciences will use the funds to further develop its range of services and research into novel Kv1.3 inhibitors for the treatment of autoimmune conditions, said Metrion Chief Operating Officer Dr. Andrew Southan.
The company last year used its internal R&D resources to validate two new cardiac safety services on QPatch 48. Southan said the assays were received well by clients, and the company will continue to identify and develop new ion channel drug discovery services throughout 2019.
“For the Kv1.3 program the o2h investment, supplemented by our Innovate UK funding, will further refine the range of data available for our highly potent and selective lead molecule that is currently undergoing preclinical testing,” he added.
Metrion aims to find a partner this year to progress the lead molecule toward clinical trials.
Southan said, “For our contract research services we aim to further expand our worldwide client base by continuing to offer assays, advice, and services of the highest quality.”
A proportion of the company’s resources are committed to seeding early-stage drug discovery research, “with the aim of being able to offer potential clients a head start for selected ion channels with therapeutic potential,” explained Southan.
“In 2019 we plan to present our recent fragment screen and computational chemistry-based approach to ion channel drug discovery,” he added.
Additionally, Metrion last year was awarded £200,000 ($278,910) to develop its drug discovery pipeline in-house and with UK-based CROs.
The funding – awarded the funding under the Innovate UK Biomedical Catalyst Feasibility Award scheme – will enable it to advance preclinical development of its portfolio of small molecule potassium inhibitors, which it acquired from Japan Tobacco.
Halting the progression of autoimmune disease
Autoimmune diseases occur when a patients’ immune cells attack healthy tissues, incorrectly sensing the human tissues as foreign, which leads to lasting tissue damage and chronic impairment, Southan explained.
In several autoimmune diseases, activated effector memory T-cells (TEM), a subtype of immune cells, are responsible for causing or potentiating disease. Southan explained that the Kv1.3 channel “is a key protein on the surface of these cells, regulating activation of TEM.”
“By blocking this channel Metrion Biosciences believes it can halt the progression of a number of debilitating diseases and we now have a strong portfolio of compounds, data and patents for this ion channel target,” he said.