independent

Friday 28 April 2017

Developing new drugs to tackle medical conditions

NEW BIOTECH RESEARCH CENTRE OPENS AT DKIT

Dr Tim McCormack ICBC, DkIT President Denis Cummins, Martin Lyons, Colin Coates, Dr Mary Earle, ICBC at the launch of the Ion Channel Biotechnology Centre at DkIT.
Dr Tim McCormack ICBC, DkIT President Denis Cummins, Martin Lyons, Colin Coates, Dr Mary Earle, ICBC at the launch of the Ion Channel Biotechnology Centre at DkIT.

AN Enterprise Ireland-funded research centre at Dundalk Institute of Technology is working with the pharmaceutical industry to develop new drugs tackling conditions such as osteoarthritis and urinary incontinence with reduced side effects.

Two patent applications will be submitted in the first quarter of this year in respect of novel chemical drug candidates.

The Ion Channel Biotechnology Centre which was officially opened yesterday ( Tuesday) has already built up a reputation as a world-class centre of excellence with the largest number of researchers in this area at any single location in Ireland and the UK.

Regulating routine bodily functions, ion channels are effectively 'transport tunnels' found in every cell of the human body, making them critical to drug development and the assessment of drug side effects.

The centre has already secured some 7.5m in funding from Ireland, the UK, Europe and the National Institutes of Health, the United States Government's medical research agency.

It is one of 17 Enterprise Ireland-designated Applied Research Enhancement Centres and works on commercialising technologies developed at Dundalk's Smooth Muscle Research Centre where work commenced in 2005.

2m from Enterprise Ireland has funded the development of chemistry and molecular biology facilities and allowed the team of almost 20 scientists to develop novel drug molecules, optimise sophisticated imaging equipment for industry and support the commercial development of drugs for human and animal consumption.

Conor Fahy, Regional Director, Enterprise Ireland, said: 'The launch of the Ion Channel Biotechnology Centre is highly significant – not only for the border region but for the wider Irish economy where the pharmaceutical industry is of such importance.

Dr Mary Earle, the recently appointed manager of the Ion Channel Biotechnology Centre, said that with over 16 billion in sales generated annually by drugs that target ion channels, the sector is of major economic as well as health importance.

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