Metrion taps Venomtech’s venom library for ion channel modulator discovery

Metrion will utilize Venomtech's venom library to search for novel ion channel modulators.

Ion channel CRO Metrion Biosciences has reached a collaboration agreement with Venomtech to utilize the latter’s venom library in search of novel ion channel modulators.

Through the deal, Metrion will screen some venoms by Venomtech against selected ion channel targets, in hopes of finding new ion channel modulators and binding sites, which could later be used in drug discovery.

“Via this partnership we can rapidly explore the UK’s largest venom collection for novel pharmacological tools for use in ion channel assay development, validation and drug discovery research,” said Andrew Southan, Metrion's head of commercial operations, in a release (PDF).

The functions of venoms have been proven to act as ion channel modulators. Understanding such interactions between venoms—even though they are poisonous—and ion channels has also provided the foundation for many ion channel drug discovery programs, especially in the area of neuroscience in that regard.

For example, Ziconotide (branded as Prialt), derived from the venom of the cone snail species Conus magus, was approved by the FDA in 2004 for treating patients with intrathecal pain. It selectively blocks N-type voltage-gated calcium ion channels, so when administered directly into the spinal fluid, it can reduce pain transmission.

Founded in 2010, Venomtech has the U.K.’s largest venom library with a wide range of venoms from snakes, scorpions, tarantulas, true spiders and other species. The company will use phylogenetic and geographical diversity analysis to design and build a targeted venom discovery array, according to the release.

Besides ion channels, Venomtech has also applied its venom library in other drug discovery approaches, including GPCRs, hard-to-hit epigenetic targets, kinases and enzymes, etc.

Metrion just formed a partnership with Assay.Works in late February, leveraging the latter’s high-throughput screening assays in Metrion’s ion channel drug discovery services. The U.K.-based CRO also formed a strategic alliance with Concept Life Sciences mid-March, a deal that sees Concept bring on its strength in providing medicinal chemistry, analytical chemistry, in vitro ADME assays and investigational toxicology services.