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Papers of the Week

Papers: 1 Jul 2023 - 7 Jul 2023

Basic Science

Ex Vivo Studies, Human Studies, In Vitro Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology, Pharmacology/Drug Development

Neuropathic Pain

2023 Jun 14



MNK inhibitor eFT508 (Tomivosertib) suppresses ectopic activity in human dorsal root ganglion neurons from dermatomes with radicular neuropathic pain.


Li Y, Uhelski ML, North RY, Mwirigi JM, Tatsui CE, Cata JP, Corrales G, Price TJ, Dougherty PM


Spontaneous activity in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons is a key driver of neuropathic pain in preclinical models and in patients suffering from this largely untreated disease. While many intracellular signaling mechanisms have been examined in preclinical models that drive this spontaneous activity (SA), none of these have been tested directly on spontaneously active human nociceptors. Using cultured DRG neurons recovered during thoracic vertebrectomy surgeries, we show that inhibition of mitogen activated protein kinase interacting kinase (MNK) with eFT508 (25 nM) reverses SA in human sensory neurons associated with painful dermatomes. MNK inhibition in spontaneously active nociceptors decreased action potential amplitude and produced alterations in the magnitude of afterhyperpolarizing currents suggesting modification of Na and K channel activity downstream of MNK inhibition. The effects of MNK inhibition on SA took minutes to emerge and were reversible over time with eFT508 washout. MNK inhibition with eFT508 led to a profound loss of eIF4E Serine 209 phosphorylation, a specific target of the kinase, within 2 min of drug treatment, consistent with the rapid action of the drug on SA in electrophysiology experiments. Our results create a compelling case for the future testing of MNK inhibitors in clinical trials for neuropathic pain.