Vernakalant hydrochloride for the treatment of atrial fibrillation

D Kozlowski, S Budrejko, Gregory Lip, DP Mikhaildis, J Rysz, G Raczak, M Banach

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

18 Citations (Scopus)


Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common arrhythmia encountered in clinical practice. Rhythm control strategy for AF is limited by drug toxicity and side effects, and recent trials have shown that this strategy is not superior to a rate control one. New antiarrhythmic drugs, free of undesired effects, would enhance rhythm control, with the possibility of sinus rhythm restoration and maintenance. A promising find in the search for new antiarrhythmic therapies is atrial-tissue specific ion channels. The findings that the ultrarapid delayed rectifier (I-Kur) and the inwardly rectifying, acetylcholine-regulated current (IK-Ach) exist in atrial but not ventricular tissue increase the probability that atrioselective drugs without ventricular proarrhythmic toxicity can be developed for treatment of patients with AF. There are also other potential targets for atria I-selective therapy: transient outward current (I-to), rapidly and slowly activating delayed rectifier currents (I-Kr and I-Ks), atrial sodium current (I-Na) and atrially expressed connexins. New drugs under development with promising atria I-selectivity include: tertiapin, NIP-142, NIP-141, JTV-519, AVE0118, AVE1231, DPO-1, AZD7009 and many others. Among such new agents, vernakalant hydrochloride is currently in an advanced phase of development and has already been evaluated in clinical trials. In this overview, we describe the history and current state of developmental process of the drug, as well as its mechanism of action and influence on electrophysiological parameters. Vernakalant seems to be effective in terminating recent-onset AF, but is not efficacious in long-lasting AF and atrial flutter. The drug may be relatively free of proarrhythmic effects, and exerts a protective effect on ventricular tissue and ventricular repolarization. It is expected that the intravenous formulation will soon be approved for the pharmacological termination of recent-onset AF.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1929-1937
Number of pages9
JournalExpert opinion on investigational drugs
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2009


  • atrial fibrillation
  • RSD1235
  • vernakalant
  • vernakalant hydrochloride


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