Icagen said today it will use its proprietary XRpro® platform to develop new X-ray fluorescence assays under a collaboration with Bayer whose value was not disclosed.

Privately held Icagen was relaunched in 2015 after it reacquired from Pfizer the ion channel biology platform that the pharma giant inherited by acquiring the original Icagen in 2011. Icagen offers global biopharmas technologies and scientific expertise designed to transform potentially druggable targets into leads for new treatments.

In the collaboration with Bayer, the assays will be designed to help Bayer advance various early discovery programs in the area of transporter targets, Icagen said.

Icagen’s XRpro technology uses X-ray fluorescence to enable a high-throughput assessment of plasma membrane ion channels and transporters, including nonelectrogenic symporters and antiporters.

XRpro is designed to work by directly quantifying ion flux in cell populations without dyes, fluorophores, and radiolabels—thus offering the ability to conduct assays in complex buffers and media, including 100% serum. All elements with an atomic number of 13 (aluminum) or greater are measured simultaneously, including biologically important monovalent ions, divalent ions, transition metals, halogens, and tracer ions.

According to its website, Bayer views ion channels as an important target for many drug products—“for example medicines to treat cardiac arrhythmia, hypertension, and diabetes”—since they can form a gate through which ions can pass into or out of the cell, thus regulating the electrical charge distribution in the membrane, and conducting the originally received signal to other cells.

Icagen says XRPro is well suited for certain classes of inorganic transporters because it can address the need for a broadly applicable high-throughput screening platform—the lack of which has hindered validation of transporters as targets and subsequent identification of molecules targeting transporters.

Even in high-throughput screening mode, screening of nonelectrogenic transporters remains challenging, and in many cases is only achieved with indirect readouts, Icagen adds.

“XRpro represents a unique application of X-ray fluorescence technology and has the potential to unlock new drug discovery efforts for previously untouched molecular targets,” Icagen CSO Doug Krafte, Ph.D., said in a statement.

Icagen said its collaboration with Bayer will span 2 years and includes milestones, which were not disclosed in today’s announcement.

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