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Apr 17, 2019
 |  BC Innovations  |  Emerging Company Profile

Nocion: Targeting pain neurons and nothing else

How Nocion is taking the numbness and paralysis out of sodium channel blockers

With a $27 million series A co-led by Canaan and F-Prime Capital announced Wednesday, Nocion thinks it could replace opioids in a range of tissue-localized indications, starting with cough. The company is aiming to minimize the side effects of commonly used analgesics by developing compounds that only affect the cells sensing pain.

Nocion is developing positively charged versions of “caines” -- broadly acting intracellular sodium channel blockers -- that selectively enter the neurons that transmit pain and itch signals, known as nociceptors.

The charge, polarity, size and structure of Nocion’s compounds means they can only enter cells with large, open transient receptor potential (TRP) and purinergic receptor P2X family ion channels on their surfaces. These channels are highly expressed on nociceptors and only open in response to noxious stimuli.

As a result, Nocion’s candidates preferentially inhibit active nociceptors, sparing motor and mechanosensory neurons. The compounds thus dampen pain signals while avoiding the paralysis and numbness typical of marketed...

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