Development of a novel potassium ion channel modulator for the treatment of dementia


Alzheimer's disease affects 1% of the world's population. Given the ageing population, 115 million people are expected to suffer from the disease by 2050. The impact on the lives of patients, their families and society in general is huge. In the UK, there are estimated to be over 670,000 people acting as primary, unpaid carers for people with dementia. Despite decades of research and the discovery of genes that increase the risk or AD, drugs that can slow or halt the progression of the disease have yet to arrive. Drugs which provide some symptomatic improvement are available, but have limited efficacy and do nothing to prevent the patient's decline. There is an urgent need to cast the net wide in the search for better treatments. Autifony have pioneered the discovery of drugs that target novel potassium ion channels in the brain. In collaboration with Prof Kaczmarek (Yale) and Prof Covarrubias (Jefferson), we have identified a new potassium channel target for the development of drugs that may treat both the symptoms of AD, but also slow the course of the disorder. Together with Dr Livesey (Cambridge), our consortium will investigate the role of this novel potassium channel in AD and develop novel compounds that selectively target this channel, with the potential to identify a more effective treatment for this devastating illness.

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