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New Investments. Spring 2019

NOCION SELECTIVELY TARGETS PAIN WITH ION CHANNEL MODULATORS


Nocion Therapeutics is developing “nocions”—a new kind of therapy that selectively affects actively firing neurons—to provide targeted, robust and sustained relief for the treatment of serious conditions including cough, itch, pain and inflammation. The foundational technology was invented by Bruce Bean, Ph.D. (HMS), Dr. Clifford Woolf (Children’s/MGH) and Dr. Bruce Levy (BWH).Nocions preferentially target activated sensory neurons – nociceptors- that are responding to external insult. Instead of trying to create drugs that are very selective for a certain receptor, the team took advantage of something neurons already do and designed a novel chemical approach to exploit it. Nocions are designed to only enter activated nociceptors via large-pore channels on neurons that open in response to insult. They used the stimuli-induced opening of these channels as Trojan horses to deliver charged Nocion molecules, which would not normally enter into the cells. The large-pore channels instigate the firing of the cells, but they can also be used to quench it. “The invention here is not actually blocking sodium channels,” said CEO Richard Batycky. “The invention is taking things already known to block them well, and changing the chemistry of the molecule so that it only gets into channels that are open.” Nocion’s first target is chronic cough.

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