NBI-921352, a first-in-class, Nav1.6 selective, sodium channel inhibitor that prevents seizures in Scn8a gain-of-function mice, and wild-type mice and rats
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NBI-921352 (formerly XEN901) is a novel sodium channel inhibitor designed to specifically target NaV1.6 channels. Such a molecule provides a precision-medicine approach to target SCN8A-related epilepsy syndromes (SCN8A-RES), where gain-of-function (GoF) mutations lead to excess NaV1.6 sodium current, or other indications where NaV1.6 mediated hyper-excitability contributes to disease (Gardella & Moller, 2019; Johannesen et al., 2019; Veeramah et al., 2012). NBI-921352 is a potent inhibitor of NaV1.6 (IC50 0.051 µM), with exquisite selectivity over other sodium channel isoforms (selectivity ratios of 756X for NaV1.1, 134X for NaV1.2, 276X for NaV1.7, and >583X for NaV1.3, NaV1.4, and NaV1.5). NBI-921352 is a state-dependent inhibitor, preferentially inhibiting inactivated channels. The state dependence leads to potent stabilization of inactivation, inhibiting NaV1.6 currents, including resurgent and persistent NaV1.6 currents, while sparing the closed/rested channels. The isoform-selective profile of NBI-921352 led to a robust inhibition of action-potential firing in glutamatergic excitatory pyramidal neurons, while sparing fast-spiking inhibitory interneurons, where NaV1.1 predominates. Oral administration of NBI-921352 prevented electrically induced seizures in a Scn8a GoF mouse, as well as in wild-type mouse and rat seizure models. NBI-921352 was effective in preventing seizures at lower brain and plasma concentrations than commonly prescribed sodium channel inhibitor anti-seizure medicines (ASMs) carbamazepine, phenytoin, and lacosamide. NBI-921352 was well tolerated at higher multiples of the effective plasma and brain concentrations than those ASMs. NBI-921352 is entering phase II proof-of-concept trials for the treatment of SCN8A–developmental epileptic encephalopathy (SCN8A-DEE) and adult focal-onset seizures.