Optivia Biotechnology Inc. has received a $1.8 million federal grant to advance the understanding of central nervous system (CNS) physiology and create novel tools to help design new CNS drugs, identify new drug targets, expand drug indications and manage potential drug side effects.
“This grant will enable us to build on our successful Phase 1 studies to provide innovative tools for understanding the effects – both positive and negative – of inhibiting critical transporters in the CNS, yielding information that could lead to the development of more effective drugs with manageable side effects,” stated Yong Huang, PhD, president and chief executive officer of Optivia. “It also represents a transformative opportunity for Optivia to expand into new markets with service offerings for drug discovery and development, beyond our current assays primarily focused on drug-drug interactions (DDIs).”
The two-year Phase 2 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant, from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will fund development of a broad set of transporter assays and a large prescription drug database to better understand the interaction between drugs and key physiologically important transporters found throughout the CNS. Membrane transporters are special proteins that transport drugs, neurotransmitters, hormones and other large and small molecules across the cell membrane. Although there is a growing appreciation for the critical role that transporters play in neurological processes, only a handful of them have been extensively studied to date due to a lack of available research tools.
“The first aim of this research project is to develop assays for about 30 human CNS drug transporters, resulting in the most comprehensive collection of cell-based CNS transporter assays commercially available to academic and pharmaceutical researchers,” said Dominique Bridon, PhD, chief scientific officer of Optivia Biotechnology. “These new assays will remove a critical bottleneck in the study of CNS transporters and the development of drugs for important CNS diseases such as depression, schizophrenia, and epilepsy, as well as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.”
The second aim of the research is to profile the interactions of at least 350 CNS prescription drugs with more than 20 CNS transporters, creating a database that could reveal previously unforeseen relationships between the pharmacological properties of drugs and their clinical outcomes. Analysis of candidate compounds using this database could result in the discovery of novel mechanisms of action, leading to the identification of new therapeutic targets or the improved prediction of side effects, according to Bridon, who explained that the database will be made available to researchers on a subscription basis.
Date: October 2, 2013
Source: Optivia Biotechnology Inc.