LifeArc and the University of Kent have signed a deal to collaborate on an ion channel drug discovery programme.

The deal will focus on small molecule modulators, which, optimised as part of the programme, could be capable of affecting the sensitivity of neurons and showing efficacy in treating chronic pain.

Under the terms of the agreement, LifeArc will conduct target validation, high throughput screening (HTS) and will further develop any ‘hits’ identified through that screening.  However, both parties estimate that a minimum of two to three years’ work will be required before any small-molecule candidates are ready to enter clinical development.

Commenting on the announcement, Dr Justin Bryans, LifeArc’s executive director of drug discovery, said: “This collaboration is another opportunity for LifeArc to deploy its growing expertise in exploiting the potential of two-pore potassium channels (K2P).  We have already licensed therapeutic candidates for onward clinical development, related to other potassium channels, to commercial pharmaceutical partners.”

Through the work of Professor Alistair Mathie and Dr Emma Veale, the University of Kent has developed considerable expertise in the characterisation of potassium ion channels. The TREK-2 ion channel is a potential target for drugs intended to reduce the sensation of pain.

LifeArc is a medical research charity with a 25-year legacy of helping scientists and organisations turn their research into treatments and diagnostics for patients.