, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp 302-307

The impact of recent ion channel science on the development and use of antiarrhythmic drugs

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Abstract

In the past 20 years in the basic laboratory, tools have been developed to further our understanding of the mechanism of arrhythmias and of the effect of compounds on these or their substrates. Patch clamp studies have better defined the cardiac channels. A new classification of antiarrhythmic drugs was devised, coined the Sicilian Gambit. Drugs, aimed at blocking specific channels, are now being developed. With the cloning of channels, information about their molecular structure became available. One can begin to understand the molecular determinants of antiarrhythmic drug action on specific ion channels, and how this is modulated by effectors. Molecular and electrophysiologic techniques also have been used to collect information about the way disease states affect the cardiac channels, and how this can alter the response to ion channel blockers. This has proceeded utilizing a few technologies. Diseased heart cells from patients, from animal models of disease, or from transgenic mice are studied to examine the change in current expression and channel protein quantity in different stages of disease. Hopefully this new information will make drug therapy more target-oriented.