SAN903 inhibits the IK potassium channel (also known as KCa3.1, encoded by the gene KCNN4), which is important for controlling immune cell functions. A precise pharmacological modulation of the IK channel can thus treat diseases, which involve overactive or mistimed immune reactions, such as inflammatory bowel diseases and potentially also rheumatic arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Saniona assesses that SAN903 is the first ion channel modulator developed for IBD and will thus become first-in-class. SAN903 may also have potential to treat a rare congenital blood disease called hereditary xerocytosis (HX), which is caused by mutations in the IK channel. SAN903 has excellent freedom-to-operate and composition-of-matter protection until 2039.
In July 2019, Saniona selected SAN903 for preclinical development.
Inflammatory bowel disease
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of inflammatory conditions in the large - and small intestine. It is estimated that more than 3.5 million patients are diagnosed with IBD (colitis and Crohn’s patients) in Europe and the U.S. The prevalence and incidence of IBD is increasing worldwide, especially in countries with an established or newly adopted Western lifestyle.
The market for anti-inflammatory treatments in IBD is estimated to be more than USD 5.9 billion in 2014. IBD patients require maintenance treatment as well as frequent interventions with strongly immune suppressing medicines, which have numerous side-effects. Currently used anti-IBD drugs are anti-inflammatory (5-ASA´s, steroids), generally immune dampening (azathioprine, 6-mercaptopurine), or biologics targeting specific cytokines/integrins (e.g. infliximab, ustekinomab, vedolizumab) as well as JAK inhibitors (e.g. tofacitinib). Despite the medication IBD patients often face a gradual worsening of their condition due to chronic fibrotic changes in the gut, which may lead to life-threatening obstructions that must be resolved by acute gut-shortening surgery. There is preclinical evidence that the SAN903 mechanism may both reduce ongoing intestinal inflammation and have an independent effect on the chronic complications of the disease without side effects observed with the traditional IBD medicines.