A New Drug for Atrial Fibrillation Starts Human Testing in Europe

Update (14/03/2018): Acesion Pharma has started a Phase I clinical trial at the Centre for Human Drug Research (CHDR) in the Netherlands. The trial will test AP30663, a treatment for atrial fibrillation that the company believes has the potential to work better than every option currently available. 


Originally published on 2/8/2018

The Danish biotech Acesion Pharma has received approval to start a clinical study with a drug to treat atrial fibrillation, the most common form of cardiac arrhythmia. 

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Acesion Pharma is seeking a new strategy to treat atrial fibrillation, a heart condition that affects 30 million people worldwide, especially the elderly. Current treatments have a limited effect and often come with a series of severe side effects that affect the heart, but Acesion is confident that its drug could solve both problems at once.

The drug candidate, called AP30663, acts by inhibiting SK channels. These are ion channels present in the cells of the atria — the two upper, smaller chambers of the heart — that are involved in the regulation of the cardiac rhythm.

“While Acesion’s compounds block only the SK channel, most existing atrial fibrillation drugs are multi-channel blockers [that] block several types of ion channels,” CEO Frans Wuite told me. “This explains their low cardiac safety since they also affect ion channels in the ventricles of the heart.”

In addition to reducing side effects, data from animal studies indicate that Acesion’s drug can work even where the newest multi-channel blocker medication had lost its efficacy. Now comes the time for the Danish biotech to test if these findings hold true in humans; Acesion has received approval to conduct a first clinical trial that will test its candidate, called AP30663, in humans for the first time. The study will take place at the Centre for Human Drug Research (CHDR) in Leiden, the Netherlands, scheduled to start in March.

According to Wuite, so far no other company has announced to be working on SK channels, meaning Acesion will have a headstart in the development of drugs in a space that could become quite valuable if the drug proves to work in humans.


Image via Dream_master /Shutterstock

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