BK Channels as Non-Genomic Estrogen Targets for Overactive Bladder


Reference #: 01195

The University of South Carolina is offering licensing opportunities for a novel approach to treat overactive bladder and other urological diseases by positive modulation of BK channels with estrogen (17β-estradiol).

Invention Description:

The invention targets the large conductance voltage- and calcium-activated potassium (BK) channel or KCa1.1 channel, a major ion channel in the urinary bladder wall, which is made out of smooth muscle. Selective pharmacological targeting of BK channel with estrogen (17β-estradiol) may be very effective novel approach to treat overactive bladder (OAB) syndrome and other urological diseases, with minimal adverse collateral cardiovascular effects.

Potential Applications:

This technology addresses the lack of safe and universally effective options OAB management.

Advantages and Benefits:

This technology may represent promising novel targets for the pharmacological or genetic control of OAB by targeting the smooth muscle responsible for lower urinary tract dysfunction.


Overactive bladder (OAB) remains a poorly understood condition that presents a significant medical challenge. Although some therapeutic options are available for the treatment of OAB, currently there is no universally effective OAB therapy. While antimuscarinics are the primary pharmacological treatment for OAB, the clinical use of these agents provides limited efficacy and undesirable side effects. The long-term effectiveness of newer therapies - such as mirabegron, a selective β3-adrenoceptor agonist and botulinum toxin - remains uncertain, and in some cases their use presents safety concerns.

The lack of safe and universally effective OAB treatments continues to spur the scientific community to seek novel therapeutic approaches to control OAB. Detrusor smooth muscle (DSM) cells represent the primary functional unit of the urinary bladder and their dysregulation is responsible for a significant portion of lower urinary tract dysfunction. Ion channels expressed in DSM control urinary bladder function, and therefore they represent promising alternative targets for the pharmacological intervention of OAB. Selective manipulation of individual ion channel subtypes in DSM could substantially alleviate various types of bladder dysfunction such as OAB, urinary incontinence, or detrusor underactivity while potentially minimizing collateral adverse effects elsewhere in the body. This new invention proses that the selective BK channel targeting with estrogens is a novel pharmacological approach to control OAB.


Collectively, the results reveal that 17β-estradiol plays a critical role in regulating human DSM function through a direct non-genomic activation of BK channels. The combined results support the concept that activation of BK channels with estrogens may represent a novel and effective treatment for patients with OAB and associated detrusor over-activity.

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Technology Commercialization
University of South Carolina
Georgi Petkov
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