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Published on 5 July 2010

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Drug trial platform gets under way

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A new drug testing platform that could bring long-term benefits to the pharmaceutical industry is being developed by scientists in England.

The team – from Southampton University and the University of London’s Birkbeck College – is working on a platform containing an array of artificial cell membranes that will allow potential new drugs to be tested.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has awarded the Bilayer Platform project £1.2 million to develop a technology that evaluates the effectiveness of drugs on ion channels using artificial bilayer lipid membranes.

Prof Hywel Morgan and Dr Maurits de Planque at Southampton University’s School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) will use the clean-room technology in the new Mountbatten Building at Southampton University to construct this platform for parallel on-chip electrophysiology.

Each membrane patch will contain different ion channels. Scientists say ion channels play a pivotal role in a wide variety of physiological processes and diseases.

“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.

Copyright Press Association 2010

EPSRC



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