Belgium's Devgen has been awarded a €1.9 million technology development grant from the Flemish government to develop a technology to identify the molecular target of human drugs.
The Flemish Institute for the Promotion of Industrial Scientific and Technological Research (IWT) has made the grant to help Devgen progress the technology, which uses the nematode worm Caenorrhabditis elegans as a model to explore the pathways that a drug interacts with.
Devgen is using the model in the first instance to examine a number of marketed drugs for which the mechanism of action is not known. The identification of the molecular target and pathway activity of these compounds will, it is hoped, allow the company to discover second-generation compounds that can offer improved efficacy and/or reduced side effects.
Vincenzo Facchini, Devgen's head of R&D, said: "Devgen's discovery process simultaneously identifies additional validated targets in the same pathway, that are valuable candidate targets for drug discovery."
The company uses a genetic and RNA interference approach to exploring drugs' effects in C elegans that, it claims, is superior to competing binding assay or biochemistry based technologies, as it is independent of the abundance of the molecular target in the cell and identifies functionally validated genes.