U.K. company will exploit discovery platform to identify candidates against a specific target.

U.K. firm Xention and Germany-based pain therapeutics specialist Grünenthal have established a research collaboration focused on the discovery and development of ion channel-targeting drugs for the treatment of pain. Xention will exploit its ion channel drug discovery platform to design, synthesize, and assess in vitro potential small molecules targeting an ion channel implicated in pain against which selective ligands haven’t yet been developed.

Grünenthal will provide additional discovery expertise and fund the two-year research program. The firm will also shoulder responsibility for all preclinical and clinical development activities and the commercialization of any resulting drug candidates worldwide. Xention will receive an up-front fee and potential milestone payments dependent on specified discovery, development, and regulatory achievements.  

“Grünenthal is recognized as a world leader in the development of pain therapeutics, and we believe that pooling our expertise with Grünenthal will result in the development of an exciting class of new medicines in this area of substantial unmet medical need,” comments Tim Brears, Ph.D., Xention’s CEO.

Ion channel drugs firm Xention is focused primarily on the field of atrial fibrillation, and has two early-clinical stage candidates targeting the Kv1.5 potassium channel. Lead candidate XEN-D0101 has undergone a Phase I safety study and is currently undergoing Phase I electrophysiology proof-of-mechanism evaluation at multiple European sites. The firm says its second candidate, XEN-D0103, is more potent and more selective than XEN-D0101 and has demonstrated a high degree of selectivity over nonatrial ion channels. Xention is also working to develop modulators of the acetylcholine-regulated potassium channel (IKACh), which it describes as a newly emerging target for atrial fibrillation.

Xention had previously been developing a clinical-stage ion channel modulator for the treatment of overactive bladder (OAB). The OAB program was spun out into a new company, Provesica, in December 2010. As a result, Provesica now has all rights to the lead TRPV1 antagonist, XEN-D0501, which had previously completed Phase I development.

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