Harnessing sodium channels
Sodium channels are large voltage-gated transmembrane proteins that play an important role in many physiological processes by regulating the entry and exit of charged ions. Because of this role as ion gatekeepers, they have proven to be valuable targets for therapeutic intervention, with companies addressing two main functions of the channels: generating and conducting electrical impulses along nerves and balancing fluids between cells and across cell membranes.
The former function has been used for sodium channel blocking anti-epileptics and local anesthetics, while the latter has been harnessed for drugs to treat hypertension.
A pair of deals announced this month are taking advantage of these two functions in additional disease areas: neuropathic pain and pulmonary disease.