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Special Topic Issue: Cellular Physiology and Biochemistry 1999, Vol. 9, No. 4-5 The present volume is dedicated to important cardiac ion channels, their function in (patho-)physiology and their pharmacology. The reviews included provide the most recent update on research on these putative drug targets for arrhythmias, coronary heart disease and heart failure. However, as the number of identified cardiac ion channel genes is enormous and a lot of research still remains to be done, the publication at hand can only cover a small portion of them in detail. The identification of an ion channel gene is only the first step towards the understanding of the role and function of a particular channel. Following the identification of a novel gene and its basic channel properties, the analysis of its tissue distribution, the regulation of protein function and expression under physiological and pathophysiological conditions as well as the composition of the channel complex (is it a hetero- or homopolymeric channel) will play a crucial role in establishing a channel as a putative new drug target. Many of these criteria are covered by the reviews in this publication, helping the researcher to keep up with developments in this complex field of research.
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