IK program for treatment of inflammatory diseases

Saniona has identified novel proprietary IK channel inhibitors, which effectively dampen gut inflammation and can be used for the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), like Crohn`s disease and ulcerative colitis. Saniona is in the final candidate selection phase for preclinical development. The drug will likely be the first ion channel modulator medicine for IBD (first-in-class).

The prevalence and incidence of IBD is increasing worldwide, especially in countries with an established or newly adopted Western lifestyle. Unfortunately, IBD requires frequent interventions with strong systemic anti-inflammatory treatments (steroids, anti-cancer type medicines, cytokine neutralizing antibodies), which have numerous side-effects. In addition to this, IBD patients often face a gradual worsening of their condition due to chronic fibrotic changes, which may lead to life-threatening obstructions that can only be resolved by acute gut-shortening surgery. There is preclinical evidence that IK inhibition both reduces ongoing intestinal inflammation and may have an independent effect on the chronic complications of the disease without having any of the side effects observed with the traditional IBD medicines.

The IK potassium channel (also known as KCa3.1 and encoded by the gene KCNN4) is very important for controlling immune cell functions in both peripheral tissues and the brain. A precise pharmacological modulation of the IK channel can thus be used for treatment of multiple diseases which involve overactive or mistimed immunological reactions, such as autoimmune diseases like rheumatic arthritis and multiple sclerosis, the prevention of organ rejection after transplantation, and reducing brain damage after a stroke.

The program is in preclinical development.