Voltage-gated Potassium Channels
Previously found to be involved in special forms of epilepsy, heteromeric KCNQ2/3 potassium channels have now revealed their potential to be attractive targets for the treatment of chronic neuropathic pain. KCNQ2/3 channels are not only found in neuronal circuits involved in seizure generation but are also expressed in neurons of the pain pathway. While under normal conditions basally active KCNQ2/3 channels determine cellular excitability by stabilizing the membrane potential, their activation by KCNQ channel openers prevents states of neuronal hyperexcitability. Such states are a hallmark of a number of pathological conditions of the nervous system such as chronic pain, epilepsy and migraine.
Grünenthal is actively pursuing the discovery of novel, small molecule KCNQ channel openers for the treatment of chronic pain conditions.