University and LifeArc collaborate to develop potential new pain medicines

Press Office

Scientists at the University are collaborating with a leading medical research charity on a new research programme involving drugs that could help treat chronic pain.

Professor Alistair Mathie and Dr Emma Veale, at the Medway School of Pharmacy, are linking up with LifeArc, a medical research charity, to collaborate on the ion channel drug discovery programme.

Through the work of Professor Mathie and Dr Veale, the University has developed considerable expertise in the characterisation of potassium ion channels. The TREK-2 ion channel is a potential target for drugs intended to reduce the sensation of pain.

LifeArc will conduct target validation, high throughput screening and will further develop any ‘hits’ identified through that screening. Both parties estimate that a minimum of two to three years’ work will be required before any small-molecule candidates are ready to enter clinical development.

Professor Mathie, Professor of Pharmacology and Cell Biology at Kent, said: ‘Following our characterisation of a potential target for new pain therapies, LifeArc will help us to develop small molecule drug candidates. We hope this will lead to an effective new class of pain medicine for patients.’

Dr Justin Bryans, LifeArc’s Executive Director, Drug Discovery, said: ‘This collaboration is another opportunity for LifeArc to deploy its growing expertise in exploiting the potential of two-pore potassium channels. We have already licensed therapeutic candidates for onward clinical development, related to other potassium channels, to commercial pharmaceutical partners.’