Developing a New Drug Testing Platform – UK

Pills, syringe and thermometer.As reported by The Engineer, scientists in the UK are in the process of developing a new drug testing platform which promises to bring long-term benefits to the pharmaceutical industry.

The platform uses artificial bilayer lipid membranes to evaluate the effectiveness of drugs on ion channels. It is being developed by a team from Southampton University and Birkbeck College, University of London. It is hoped the new platform with provide a more efficient way of testing potential new drugs. The platform is being developed in the new Mountbatten Building at Southampton University.

According to Dr Maurits de Planque of Southampton University, ion channels play a pivotal role in a wide variety of physiological processes and diseases and are consequently of considerable interest to the pharmaceutical industry. It is for this reason that the Southampton group has teamed up with the Birkbeck group, led by Prof Bonnie Ann Wallace, who are experts in ion channel structure and function.

‘By putting the ion channel into an artificial membrane, we only have one type of channel, no living cells and a relatively inexpensive method for testing for several of these types of channels at once,’ said de Planque.

This project is expected to take just over three years to complete and it is hoped it will bring benefits to both the public and private sector industries, as well as spur on new research for the treatment of diseases such as chronic pain, epilepsy and certain types of heart disease.

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