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Millennium and Wyeth-Ayerst announce the discovery of key potassium ion channel modulating proteins

Potential applications in therapeutic development for central nervous system disorders

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., February 3, 2000 -- Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: MLNM) and Wyeth-Ayerst Research, the research division of American Home Products Corporation (NYSE:AHP) today announced that they have published the identification of a family of proteins called Potassium Channel Interacting Proteins (KChIPs) that associate with and regulate the activity of certain potassium ion channels, called "A-type" channels. The study, which appears in the February 3, 2000 issue of Nature, is part of an ongoing collaboration between Wyeth-Ayerst Research and Millennium. These A-type potassium channels are thought to be involved in the control of the electrical signals of the brain and other excitable tissues. Abnormalities in the electrical signals of these tissues may form the basis for a variety of disorders including anxiety, depression, ischemia and epilepsy.

Millennium and Wyeth-Ayerst scientists believe that this paper, titled "Modulation of A-type Potassium Channels by a Family of Calcium Sensors," is the first publication to identify a modulator of the function of these key potassium channels. Prior to this discovery, the activity of the isolated channel was found to be significantly different from the natural activity measured in the brain. The companies believe that these KChIPs are important missing components of native A-type potassium channels which helps explain the difference. The identification of these additional components may allow for the development of new drug screens to identify compounds that modulate A-type potassium channels in a tissue-specific manner. This may allow for the development of therapeutics for CNS disorders that do not cause unwanted side effects in other non-brain tissues such as the heart.

"We have found that KChIPs restore many important features of the physiological properties of native A-ty
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Contact: Sally McCraven
mccraven@mpi.com
617-577-3548
Noonan/Russo Communications
2-Feb-2000


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