Oxford University’s Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences will use MRC Technology’s commercialization services to advance into clinical development new treatments for migraine pain control.

MRC Technology is the company formed in 2000 to handle the technology transfer needs of the U.K.’s Medical Research Council.

“We are hopeful that our collaboration will lead to treatments that could not only prevent migraines, but could potentially result in a more general pain therapy with even wider impact,” Justin Bryans, D.Phil., MRC Technology’s director of drug discovery, said in a statement.

It is anticipated that the new compounds will emerge from the laboratory of Zameel Cader, D.Phil., MRCP. Dr. Cader, who directs the Oxford Headache Center and consults with John Radcliffe Hospital, is an investigator of neurogenetic and headache disorders. His laboratory will screen selective and potent potassium channel activators to develop new compounds for migraine, based on its work in identifying KCNK18, the first gene underlying typical migraine.

KCNK18 encodes a tandem-pore background potassium channel, TRESK, which is linked to causing migraines and controls the sensitivity of pain nerves in the brain. The body’s threshold to pain can be significantly lowered if TRESK is faulty or inactive.

In a study set to be published November 15 in the journal Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Dr. Cader was part of a research team that developed a cell-based assay, using thallium flux, to screen for novel TRESK activators. The researchers identified Cloxyquin as a novel activator of TRESK, confirming Cloxyquin activity using whole-cell patch-clamp electrophysiology.

Dr. Cader is also director of StemBancc, a five-year, 35-partner academic-industry consortium formed to generate and characterize high quality human induced pluripotent stem cell lines to study a range of chronic diseases (e.g. diabetes and dementia) and test for drug efficacy and safety.

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