Ion Channel Research: How It Changed The Drug Discovery Process

Advancements in technology have made increased productivity and breakthroughs possible for health researchers. And, it’s especially true for the process of drug discovery, being one of the significant parts of preclinical health research.

Preclinical CROs, like IonsGate Preclinical Contract Research Organization, are companies that provide equipment, skills, personnel, and research for drug discovery. Many CROs have started to use ion channel screening nowadays. Ion channel research streamlines the discovery of drugs.  But, how does ion channel screening work and how has it changed drug discovery and development?

Ion Channels: What Are They?

Ion channels are membranes of protein found in the cells of every living organism. They are responsible for the passing of ions through cell openings. More and more health researchers have subjected ion channels to studies because of their potential to have therapeutic properties.

Ion channels also play a role in electrical signaling within and among cells. Of course, electrical signals are necessary for hormone secretion, electrical impulse generation in the nerve, and many other physiological processes.

The movement of the ions across cells also gets controlled by ion channels. It makes it possible for them to control cell volume and form a resting membrane potential.

Ion Channels And Diseases

Ion channel defects may result in various diseases, especially those that relate to neural and muscular conditions. Epilepsy, cystic fibrosis, and severe pain are also conditions that get attributed to defective ion channels.

Ion Channels And The Drug Discovery Process

Since ion channels maintain physiological processes and cause numerous diseases, they have become subjects for new drug discovery experiments as targets. The interest from preclinical CROs makes sense, primarily because of the twenty percent of registered drugs in the market today that modifies cellular behavior by targeting ion channels.

The first step of the drug discovery process involving ion channels is that either a disease gets selected or a specific ion channel becomes a target. If the process starts with selecting a disease, a search for a target that can get altered follows. Assays then get developed after validating targets. Assays are a test system that evaluates interactions between the condition and the target. The test system also predicts the effects that tissues and cells may experience from chemical compounds.

A positive hit happens once the desired effect gets produced by one or more compounds. Further tests and modifications take place from thereon to possibly turn the identified molecule into a drug and improve its impact. Clinical trials and FDA review take place after that.

Ion Channel Screening And The Drug Discovery Process

Despite ion channels already becoming an essential component of health research, it’s still a complicated topic to tackle. The limited knowledge that science has on the relationship between specific conditions and ion channels is the reason why. Add to it the challenges when it comes to the available technologies that can aid ion channel research.

As they say, targeting ion channels is like looking for a needle in the hay. It’s where ion channel screening can be of great help. It’s a process that’s capable of streamlining ion channel targeting to become as efficient and as fast as possible. 

Ion Channel Screening: What Is It?

Ion channel screening is an essential process involved in ion channel research. It makes the use of ion channels during drug development as efficient as possible. What happens during this process is that chemical compounds get tested or screened for their ability to either stimulate or target a specific ion channel.

Ion channel screening is a crucial part of ion channel research, as well as in the overall process of drug discovery and development. It searches for new viable probes and leads by checking libraries that contain millions of compounds. The leads that a researcher will find after the screening process should have the potential to result in drug discovery.

Impact Of Ion Channel Research On The Drug Discovery Process

Ion channel researches that CRO conducts utilize ion channel screening for easy and quick identification of a target. These are also utilized for testing the responsiveness of selected compounds for related targets.

Ion channel research allows health researchers to conduct millions of tests rapidly. Through ion channel screening, quick and accurate identification of antibodies, genes, and active compounds becomes possible. Of course, all these things are essential since they can pave a pathway for successful drug discovery and development. Today, these experiments and their findings are the basis of drug development.

Drug discovery has received a massive boost from ion channel research, especially ion channel screening, by reducing unnecessary activity against irrelevant targets. Ion channel screening also intensifies action against the targeted compounds, improving the target molecules’ drug properties. 


Ion channel research has become a critical part of drug discovery and development. Although there’s still a need for further studies to maximize its full potential, ion channel research has, no doubt, changed the drug discovery process positively.