Q2 2017 was another productive quarter for the Metrion Biosciences team. Our stand-alone CRO sales continued on an upward trajectory, with both April and June revenues beating our previous best months for invoiced sales and total H1 2017 stand-alone CRO revenue being well above our 2016 figure. Our FTE-based collaborations also performed well, delivering high quality support services for our clients and a twelve-month extension secured from May 2017 for one of our projects. Once again, thanks to the lab team and support staff for their hard work.

On April 21st we co-hosted the fourth Cambridge Ion Channel forum with Medimmune. Thanks to Clare Jones for her initial input, John Linley for co-organising, Medimmune for providing the venue, Aline Charpentier from One Nucleus for helping with the logistics and finally the speakers for taking the time to prepare their presentations (we received good feedback from the conference attendees and will take comments received into account when organising the 2018 meeting). John Wood (UCL) gave an excellent keynote presentation at this year’s meeting, reviewing Nav1.7 as an analgesic drug target. John Linley (Medimmune) presented a summary of his research focusing on function modifying antibodies targeting P2X4 ion channels, Michael Mullin (GSK) reviewed strategies and methods used by GSK to deliver ion channel reagents for antibody discovery, David Bulmer (University of Cambridge) presented his research into the mechanistic stratification of visceral pain using human tissue and finally Metrion’s Tony Rush closed the conference with a review some of our latest translational assay data, using microelectrode array techniques and cortical neurones. Metrion is experiencing significant interest in such translational assays from customers, in both the neuroscience and cardiac fields, and we have recently dedicated additional resource in this area to develop and validate new assays. Please get in touch if you would like to speak to one of our scientists about such studies.

Our collaboration agreement with Venomtech was also executed in April and we anticipate a very productive relationship with the Steve Trim and the Venomtech team. Potent and selective modulators derived from animal venoms have provided enormous benefits to ion channel researchers, revealing new binding sites and providing pharmacological tools for assay development and validation. We are really looking forward to the results from our first two screens – watch this space. Please contact us if you are interested in hearing more about this collaboration or have an ion channel in mind for the follow-on screens. We also nearing the end of assay development for an additional screening collaboration that is not currently in the public domain, this project is co-funded by Metrion and a UK-based partner and has the potential to provide us with a highly innovative approach to lead generation for ion channel targets, we hope to be able to reveal more detail in H2.

Turning to further conferences in Q2, Jim had a very productive few days of meetings in June at BIO in San Diego and Metrion also attended, exhibited and presented a poster at Sophion’s Ion Channel Modulation Symposium (ICMS) in Cambridge on 21st June, which was an excellent chance to hear some great presentations and catch up old friends. Highlights included David Beeson’s inspiring presentation on his research into the treatment of genetic disorders of the neuromuscular synapse, David Wylie’s overview of the structure-function relationship of dendritic spines in a model of Fragile X syndrome and the developments from Gong Chen’s lab relating to the in vivo conversion of glial cells back to neural tissue. Thanks to Duncan Jarman and the Sophion team for putting the conference together. It is hoped this meeting will become regular feature of Cambridge summertime.

Metrion hosted Ed Emery (UCL) on 25th May as the third speaker in our series of presentations from leading academics, Ed gave an excellent overview of his research focusing on in vivo imaging techniques applied to DRG neurones. Next up, on 3rd August 2017, is Stuart Bevan (King’s College London) to talk the roles of TRPA1 and TRPM3 ion channels in pain and nociception. Metrion has decided to open this series of presentations to external attendees. If you would like to attend, please let us know by registering your interest at info@metrionbiosciences.com. We have also secured Alastair Mathie (Medway School of Pharmacy) to talk about two-pore domain ion channels in September or October and Mustafa Djamgoz (Imperial College London), who will give our Christmas lecture and review the involvement of ion channels in cancer, especially metastasis. We will be announcing firm dates shortly, keep an eye on our LinkedIn page and website for updates. Suggestions and recommendations for future speakers and topics are always welcome.

Looking ahead to Q3, we have submitted four poster abstracts (three cardiac, one neuronal) for September’s Safety Pharmacology Society meeting in Berlin, with one of the posters will being a joint presentation with Cellular Dynamics International (CDI). An application note with CDI is also planned for release at the time of the conference and plans for a joint webinar are taking shape for later this year. The Metrion booth will be in the SPS exhibits area, stop by for a chat with Jim, John Ridley or arrange a meeting with CSO Marc Rogers.

Once again, we would like to thank all our customers and partners for working with the Metrion team.