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IONTAS awarded £556K ($737K) from Innovate UK

Funding will be used to further develop IONTAS’ ion-channel targeting KnotBody antibody platform to block pain transmission via Nav1.7

IONTAS Limited (IONTAS), a leader in the discovery and optimisation of fully human antibodies, announced today that it has been awarded a major grant to support ongoing research into its novel antibody platform, KnotBody™. The grant will allow IONTAS to expand its current interest in targeting antibodies to ion channels, in particular Nav1.7, to aid the development of therapies for chronic pain management. The total value of the grant will be £794,626 of which IONTAS will receive 70% from the Biomedical Catalyst Primer initiative established by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency.

Chronic pain is a major global healthcare problem affecting 25-35% of the world’s population. It carries a significant socio-economic burden and has an estimated global market value of $83bn by 2024.1 IONTAS aims to generate therapeutic candidates that overcome issues with current opioid-based treatments, such as inconsistent efficacy and significant side-effects (e.g. tolerance, addiction and overdose).

IONTAS’ KnotBody format fuses knottins, small peptides found in venom toxins, within an antibody CDR loop, allowing the ion channel modulating functionality of knottins to be combined with the specificity and in vivo half-life of monoclonal antibodies. Using this technology, IONTAS has developed a Nav1.7-targeted KnotBody to block pain transmission. The grant will be used to improve target specificity and potency of this KnotBody using well-established methods pioneered by the team at IONTAS and its founding scientists.

Dr John McCafferty, CEO and Founder of IONTAS, said: “KnotBody technology allows for selective targeting of ion channels, a class of therapeutic proteins previously seen as difficult to target with antibodies. The co-funding from Innovate UK is a further vindication of the novel science IONTAS is developing and we are excited to expand this technology further, to help generate therapeutic molecules for pain management.”

Neil Butt, CBO of IONTAS commented: “IONTAS strives to offer market-leading services, technology development and innovative therapeutic candidates. We see this grant as a platform which will allow IONTAS to leverage its scientific and commercial expertise into new opportunities and to further develop its business through collaborative partnerships in drug discovery and development.”

For further information about IONTAS’ KnotBody technology: https://www.iontas.co.uk/technologies/