Fourteen drugs have been removed from the market worldwide because they cause torsade de pointes. Most drugs that cause torsade can be identified by assessing whether they block the human ether à gogo related gene (hERG) potassium channel and prolong the QT interval on the electrocardiogram. In response, regulatory agencies require new drugs to undergo “thorough QT” studies. However, some drugs block hERG potassium channels and prolong QT with minimal torsade risk because they also block calcium and/or sodium channels. Through analysis of clinical and preclinical data from 34 studies submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration and by computer simulations, we demonstrate that by dividing the QT interval into its components of depolarization (QRS), early repolarization (J-Tpeak), and late repolarization (Tpeak-Tend), along with atrioventricular conduction delay (PR), it may be possible to determine which hERG potassium channel blockers also have calcium and/or sodium channel blocking activity. This translational regulatory science approach may enable innovative drugs that otherwise would have been labeled unsafe to come to market.
Author(s): Lars Johannesen, Jose Vicente, Richard Gray, Loriano Galeotti, Zak Loring, Christine Garnett, Jeff Florian, Martin Ugander, Norman Stockbridge, David Strauss