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Br J Pharmacol. 2008 Aug;154(7):1491-501. doi: 10.1038/bjp.2008.279.

International Life Sciences Institute (Health and Environmental Sciences Institute, HESI) initiative on moving towards better predictors of drug-induced torsades de pointes.

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  • 1Drug Safety and Metabolism, Schering-Plough Research Institute, Kenilworth, NJ 07033-0539, USA. alan.bass@spcorp.com


Knowledge of the cardiac safety of emerging new drugs is an important aspect of assuring the expeditious advancement of the best candidates targeted at unmet medical needs while also assuring the safety of clinical trial subjects or patients. Present methodologies for assessing drug-induced torsades de pointes (TdP) are woefully inadequate in terms of their specificity to select pharmaceutical agents, which are human arrhythmia toxicants. Thus, the critical challenge in the pharmaceutical industry today is to identify experimental models, composite strategies, or biomarkers of cardiac risk that can distinguish a drug, which prolongs cardiac ventricular repolarization, but is not proarrhythmic, from one that prolongs the QT interval and leads to TdP. To that end, the HESI Proarrhythmia Models Project Committee recognized that there was little practical understanding of the relationship between drug effects on cardiac ventricular repolarization and the rare clinical event of TdP. It was on that basis that a workshop was convened in Virginia, USA at which four topics were introduced by invited subject matter experts in the following fields: Molecular and Cellular Biology Underlying TdP, Dynamics of Periodicity, Models of TdP Proarrhythmia, and Key Considerations for Demonstrating Utility of Pre-Clinical Models. Contained in this special issue of the British Journal of Pharmacology are reports from each of the presenters that set out the background and key areas of discussion in each of these topic areas. Based on this information, the scientific community is encouraged to consider the ideas advanced in this workshop and to contribute to these important areas of investigations over the next several years.

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