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Optivia Receives $1.9M SBIR Grant for Membrane Transporter Research

By a GenomeWeb Staff Reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Optivia Biotechnology today announced it has been awarded a $1.9 million Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant to "determine the precise mechanisms that underlie certain drug-to-drug interactions," in an effort to improve medication safety.

The grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences will be used to develop assays and databases to identify the most clinically significant drug-to-drug interactions involving membrane transporters, the proteins that transport drugs across cell membranes, either blocking or enabling the drug's effectiveness.

From the grant, $367,000 will be used for research to profile 2,000 prescription drugs against key transporters in the liver and kidneys. That research will be conducted at the University of California, San Francisco.

According to Kathleen Giacomini, a co-principal investigator on the grant and professor and co-chair of the UCSF department of bioengineering and therapeutic sciences, the study will be the largest and most comprehensive to date on the interaction between prescription drugs and membrane transporters.

"This grant will enable us to break new ground in transporter biology research and, ultimately, help identify which medications could cause transporter-related drug interactions and lead to adverse reactions when taken with other drugs," Giacomini said in a statement.

Optivia's Opti-Expression technology will be used to develop more than 50 assays for key human and rat transporters. Many of the transporters were identified by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2006, but suitable experimental assays for most of them are not currently available.

Based in Menlo Park, Calif., Optivia develops and provides transporter assays, database, and models for the discovery and development of drugs with better safety and efficacy, it said.

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