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 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 dampening of autoimmune diseases like rheumatic arthritis and multiple sclerosis, preventing organ rejection after transplantation, and ameliorating brain damage following a stroke event.
Our recent IK research has identified novel proprietary IK channel inhibitors, which effectively dampens gut inflammation and can be used for treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), like Crohn`s disease and ulcerative colitis. The prevalence and incidence of IBD is increasing worldwide, especially in countries having a western lifestyle or is in the process of adapting to it. Unfortunately, IBD is not well managed, and requires frequent interventions with strong systemic anti-inflammatory treatment (steroids, anti-cancer type medicines, cytokine neutralizing antibodies) having numerous side-effects. In addition to this, IBD patients are often facing 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.
Saniona is in the process of performing a final candidate selection for preclinical development. The drug will likely be the first ion channel modulator medicine for IBD (first-in-class).