Scion Pharmaceuticals Inc.
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Lectus was founded in December 2002, to develop and commercialize a second generation of ion channel modulating drugs. By targeting the plethora of accessory proteins that regulate the activity of the ion channel pore-forming proteins rather than the pore-forming proteins themselves Lectus believes its drugs will be safer and more effective than currently marketed products.
Automated medium- and high-throughput ion channel screening systems promise to jump start the search for ion channel modulating drugs, a vast and promising area of drug discovery. In Vivo Europe Rx looks at Sophion Bioscience, Nanion Technologies, and Xention Discovery, three emerging European firms whose platforms may help return ion channels to the forefront of biotech and pharmaceutical companies' discovery targets.
Historically ion channels have been among the most attractive targets for therapeutic intervention. But discovery of new ion channel drugs has come to a halt because ion channels are difficult to assay, require specialized tools and skills to study adequately, and have historically been impossible to study directly in high-throughput mode-the preferred style of the last decade. Now, a variety of automated assay technologies are coming on the market that should increase throughput, and some drug discovery companies have developed proprietary high-throughput methods for in-house use. With industry now interested more than ever in applying higher-throughput technologies to precedented targets, in a sense, ion channel discovery may become a beneficiary of the failures of genomics, combinatorial chemistry, and high-throughput screening.
David Farb, PhD never realized that his invention of automating the electrophysiology (EP) assay would become the basis for founding a new company. He engineered High-Throughput Electrophysiology (HTEP) purely for academic pursuits, but the patent caught the attention of Boston University's Community Technology Fund, Mark Carthy of Oxford Bioscience Partners, and Pravin Chaturvedi, PhD. After just three months of discussions, Farb, Carthy, and Chaturvedi decided that HTEP was an academic tool with industrial applications, so they founded Scion Pharmaceuticals Inc. in September 2001.
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