The Danish biotech company Acesion Pharma announces that it has received a 27.9 million DKK (3.7 million EUR) Seeding Drug Discovery Award from the UK based Wellcome Trust to fund the development of a novel drug for the acute treatment of atrial fibrillation (AF).
AF is the most common type of cardiac arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat, and affects about 1% of the population. There is high unmet need for better drugs for the medical treatment of AF as current drugs are ineffective in many cases and associated with unwanted side effects.
Acesion Pharma aims to develop more efficacious and safer drugs for AF based on a novel concept of inhibiting a type of ion channel in heart cells that is involved in generating the electrical signals that regulate the heart’s rhythm. Blocking these channels, known as SK channels, with a targeted drug constitutes a new and promising approach for developing improved treatments of AF. The Award from the Wellcome Trust will fund a program to identify a novel and improved drug to restore the normal rhythm of the heart in a one-off treatment for patients with on-going AF.
CEO of Acesion Pharma, Ulrik Sørensen, comments:
“We are very pleased that Acesion Pharma has received this Seeding Drug Discovery Award that will provide substantial funding of our activities within atrial fibrillation. We are looking forward to collaborating with the Wellcome Trust over the coming three years. This award enables us to transform the pioneering work obtained by our scientists on this novel AF target into a comprehensive drug discovery program that shall identify and develop clinical candidates as future improved therapies for AF.”
Richard Seabrook, Head of Business Development at the Wellcome Trust, said:
"Irregularities in heart rhythm, or atrial fibrillation, is a major health problem that is on the rise as our population ages. We urgently need new drugs to better treat this condition. The results from preclinical studies of this approach are promising and we are pleased to support Acesion to investigate this novel target further."
In addition to the program on drugs for acute cardioversion of AF, Acesion Pharma will initiate activities to develop SK channel inhibitors for chronic treatment aiming to keep the patient in normal heart rhythm and thereby prevent relapse of AF. To advance these activities, Acesion Pharma has on 5 May 2013 raised additional equity funding of 7.2 mio DKK (approx. 1 mio EUR) from the current investors Novo A/S and SEED Capital Denmark. Together with the Seeding Drug Discovery Strategic Award from the Wellcome Trust, the new equity comprises new funding of in total 35.1 million DKK (4.7 mio EUR).