Our Research

Our research is focused on identifying and characterizing new chemical entities that can enter the Saniona drug development pipeline.

Our focus is on ion channels, a group of proteins that mediate a strictly regulated transport of ions across cell membranes. Ion channels control and influence essentially all physiological processes in the body, including thinking, sensing, and moving. Not surprisingly, even minor malfunction of ion channels can lead to serious diseases, such as epilepsy, heart failure, cystic fibrosis, metabolic diseases, or various pain disorders. Drugs that interact with certain defined aspects of ion channel function thus have the capability to ameliorate or even cure diseases. Around 20 % of all registered drugs interact with ion channels as their primary way of action.

Saniona focuses on three major classes of ion channels: Chloride ion selective channels, which are activated by the major inhibitory signal molecule in the brain called GABA (and modulated by well-known drugs like Valium), channels selective for cations and activated by the signal molecule acetylcholine (as well as nicotine, which is the reason why these are also called nicotinergic ion channels), and finally channels selective for the potassium ion, which can be activated by a variety of different stimuli, such as signal molecules and the electrical potential difference across the cell membrane.


Saniona researchers work with ion channel pharmacology at all levels, ranging from the gene, the functional expression of the channel protein in cellular membranes, to living cells, organs, and finally the intact organism. We use highly specialized equipment to capture the secrets of ion channel function, and we can even characterize drug actions on a single ion channel protein.

Please use the links on the left for information on selected ongoing research programs and highlighted publications.