Metrion Biosciences, the specialist ion channel contract research and drug discovery company, has made two senior appointments to its management team. Dr Edward Stevens joins the company as head of drug discovery, and Dr Andrew Lightfoot as head of medicinal chemistry and discovery funding.
These appointments follow the expansion of Metrion’s internal drug discovery programme, driven by funding from Innovate UK, to support research into potassium ion channel inhibitors. The internal proprietary programme will now be led by Dr Stevens and Dr Lightfoot, and is based on a portfolio of more than 2000 novel small molecule inhibitors of potassium ion channels acquired by Metrion in January 2018.
The company is evaluating the lead compounds as potential orally active drugs for treatment of auto-immune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, ulcerative colitis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Dr Edward Stevens joins Metrion from Ario Pharma, where he was Chief Scientific Officer. Prior to this, he held various roles at Pfizer Neusentis and Pfizer Sandwich, including Head of Electrophysiology, a member of the Pain Research Unit Leadership Team, and led several ion channel discovery programmes.
Dr Stevens was also previously COO for NeuroSolutions, a Warwick University spin-out company, and Head of the Ion Channel Group at Cambridge Drug Discovery/BioFocus (now part of Charles River).
Dr Andrew Lightfoot is currently CEO at Procarta Biosystems and in his new role at Metrion will continue in this position. He was also previously CEO and founder of Peptinnovate, a UK based, clinical stage biopharmaceutical company, executive director of Swedish medtech CytaCoat AB, and CEO of Helperby Therapeutics.
Dr Lightfoot has also held various research project leadership positions at GSK, including Associate Director, Neurosciences, as a member of the Discovery Performance Unit Leadership Team, and led a drug discovery programme to candidate selection at GSK in Verona, Italy.
Dr Keith McCullagh, Chairman, Metrion Biosciences, said: “Both Eddy and Andrew have already supported Metrion in developing a number of internal drug discovery projects this year, and also in securing funding for in-house research."
"I am delighted to welcome them to formal positions at the company, where they will play an important role in the further advancement of our proprietary ion channel research programmes, with the aim of securing significant future research collaborations with pharma partners.”