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Xention Receives Wellcome Trust Award for Atrial Fibrillation Programme

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XENTION LTD, the Cambridge-based biopharmaceutical company specializing in the discovery and development of ion channel-modulating drugs, announced that it had received a substantial award from the Wellcome Trust to support pioneering work on an exciting target for atrial fibrillation.

The award, made under Wellcome’s Seeding Drug Discovery initiative, will provide up to £3 million to fund Xention’s IKACh programme over a period of three years. IKACh is the acetylcholine-activated potassium current encoded by the Kir3.1/3.4 ion channel genes and is an emerging ion channel target for the development of new therapeutics for atrial fibrillation, an area in which Xention has already broad expertise.

IKACh is expressed only in the atria, and inhibition of IKACh is expected to maintain sinus rhythm in patients who have experienced episodes of atrial fibrillation. Using the funding provided by Wellcome, Xention will develop small molecule, orally active inhibitors of IKACh for assessment in in vivo models and subsequent progression into clinical development.

This approach is of great interest to clinicians in a therapeutic area that is currently underserved with clinically effective, well-tolerated, medicines. Xention’s IKACh programme will complement its existing Kv1.5 programme, the most advanced compound from which is currently in clinical development.

“We are very pleased to have received this prestigious award,” commented Tim Brears, Xention’s Chief Executive. “We look forward to working with the Wellcome Trust over the coming years to develop new therapeutics in this area of substantial unmet medical need.”