Publications by authors named "Christopher M Flores"

60 Publications

Application of Real-World Data and the REWARD Framework to Detect Unknown Benefits of Memantine and Identify Potential Disease Targets for New NMDA Receptor Antagonists.

CNS Drugs 2021 Feb 4;35(2):243-251. Epub 2021 Feb 4.

Janssen Research and Development, 1125 Trenton Harbourton Rd, Titusville, NJ, 08560, USA.

Background: Observational data may inform novel drug development programs by identifying previously unappreciated, clinical benefits of existing drugs. Several preclinical and clinical studies have suggested emergent therapeutic utility of drugs acting on the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor, a subtype of glutamate receptors, including the antidementia drug memantine.

Methods: Using a self-controlled cohort study design, the association of exposure to the NMDA receptor antagonist memantine with the incidence of all observed disease outcomes in four US administrative claims databases, spanning from January 2000 through January 2019, was assessed. The databases used in this study were the IBM MarketScan Commercial Database (CCAE), the IBM MarketScan Multi-State Medicaid Database (MDCD), the IBM MarketScan Medicare Supplemental Database (MDCR), and the Optum De-Identified Clinformatics Data Mart Database. Outcomes were defined according to the unique Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine-Clinical Terms (SNOMED CT) classification system codes and required a diagnosis on two or more distinct dates. Of 20,953 outcomes assessed, only those for which memantine was associated with a ≥ 50% reduction in risk in two or more databases were included. A meta-analysis with random effects was used to pool data across the databases.

Results: Overall, 312,336 patients were exposed to memantine during the study. After removing conditions related to dementia and memory loss, 60 outcomes met the threshold criteria. Results fell into five disease categories: mental disorders, substance use disorders, pain, gastrointestinal and colon disorders, and demyelinating disease. The bulk of findings fell into the first two groups, with 28 outcomes related to mental disorders and 24 related to substance use disorders.

Conclusion: The present results confirm that NMDA receptor antagonism may have broader therapeutic utility than previously recognized. Further observational and clinical research may be warranted to explore the therapeutic benefit of NMDA antagonists for the outcomes found in this study.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s40263-020-00789-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7907035PMC
February 2021

Sex differences in the role of atypical PKC within the basolateral nucleus of the amygdala in a mouse hyperalgesic priming model.

Neurobiol Pain 2020 Aug-Dec;8:100049. Epub 2020 Jun 4.

University of Texas at Dallas, School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences and Center for Advanced Pain Studies, United States.

Though sex differences in chronic pain have been consistently described in the literature, their underlying neural mechanisms are poorly understood. Previous work in humans has demonstrated that men and women differentially invoke distinct brain regions and circuits in coping with subjective pain unpleasantness. The goal of the present work was to elucidate the molecular mechanisms in the basolateral nucleus of the amygdala (BLA) that modulate hyperalgesic priming, a pain plasticity model, in males and females. We used plantar incision as the first, priming stimulus and prostaglandin E (PGE) as the second stimulus. We sought to assess whether hyperalgesic priming can be prevented or reversed by pharmacologically manipulating molecular targets in the BLA of male or female mice. We found that administering ZIP, a cell-permeable inhibitor of aPKC, into the BLA attenuated aspects of hyperalgesic priming induced by plantar incision in males and females. However, incision only upregulated PKCζ/PKMζ immunoreactivity in the BLA of male mice, and deficits in hyperalgesic priming were seen only when we restricted our analysis to male mice. On the other hand, intra-BLA microinjections of pep2m, a peptide that interferes with the trafficking and function of GluA2-containing AMPA receptors, a downstream target of aPKC, reduced mechanical hypersensitivity after plantar incision and disrupted the development of hyperalgesic priming in both male and female mice. In addition, pep2m treatment reduced facial grimacing and restored aberrant behavioral responses in the sucrose splash test in male and female primed mice. Immunofluorescence results demonstrated upregulation of GluA2 expression in the BLA of male and female primed mice, consistent with pep2m findings. We conclude that, in a model of incision-induced hyperalgesic priming, PKCζ/PKMζ in the BLA is critical for the development of hyperalgesic priming in males, while GluA2 in the BLA is crucial for the expression of both reflexive and affective pain-related behaviors in both male and female mice in this model. Our findings add to a growing body of evidence of sex differences in molecular pain mechanisms in the brain.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ynpai.2020.100049DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7284072PMC
June 2020

The discovery of azetidine-piperazine di-amides as potent, selective and reversible monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL) inhibitors.

Bioorg Med Chem Lett 2020 07 7;30(14):127243. Epub 2020 May 7.

Janssen Research & Development, L.L.C., Welsh & McKean Roads, Spring House, PA 19477, USA.

Monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL) is the enzyme that is primarily responsible for hydrolyzing the endocannabinoid 2-arachidononylglycerol (2-AG) to arachidonic acid (AA). It has emerged in recent years as a potential drug target for a number of diseases. Herein, we report the discovery of compound 6g from a series of azetidine-piperazine di-amide compounds as a potent, selective, and reversible inhibitor of MAGL. Oral administration of compound 6g increased 2-AG levels in rat brain and produced full efficacy in the rat complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA) model of inflammatory pain.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bmcl.2020.127243DOI Listing
July 2020

The discovery of diazetidinyl diamides as potent and reversible inhibitors of monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL).

Bioorg Med Chem Lett 2020 06 18;30(12):127198. Epub 2020 Apr 18.

Janssen Research & Development, L.L.C., Welsh & McKean Roads, Spring House, PA 19477, USA.

Monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL) has emerged as an attractive drug target because of its important role in regulating the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) and its hydrolysis product arachidonic acid (AA) in the brain. Herein, we report the discovery of a novel series of diazetidinyl diamide compounds 6 and 10 as potent reversible MAGL inhibitors. In addition to demonstrating potent MAGL inhibitory activity in the enzyme assay, the thiazole substituted diazetidinyl diamides 6d-l and compounds 10 were also effective at increasing 2-AG levels in a brain 2-AG accumulation assay in homogenized rat brain. Furthermore, selected compounds have been shown to achieve good brain penetration after oral administration in an animal study.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bmcl.2020.127198DOI Listing
June 2020

Pharmacologic Characterization of JNJ-42226314, [1-(4-Fluorophenyl)indol-5-yl]-[3-[4-(thiazole-2-carbonyl)piperazin-1-yl]azetidin-1-yl]methanone, a Reversible, Selective, and Potent Monoacylglycerol Lipase Inhibitor.

J Pharmacol Exp Ther 2020 03 9;372(3):339-353. Epub 2019 Dec 9.

Janssen Research & Development, LLC, San Diego, California.

The serine hydrolase monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL) is the rate-limiting enzyme responsible for the degradation of the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) into arachidonic acid and glycerol. Inhibition of 2-AG degradation leads to elevation of 2-AG, the most abundant endogenous agonist of the cannabinoid receptors (CBs) CB1 and CB2. Activation of these receptors has demonstrated beneficial effects on mood, appetite, pain, and inflammation. Therefore, MAGL inhibitors have the potential to produce therapeutic effects in a vast array of complex human diseases. The present report describes the pharmacologic characterization of [1-(4-fluorophenyl)indol-5-yl]-[3-[4-(thiazole-2-carbonyl)piperazin-1-yl]azetidin-1-yl]methanone (JNJ-42226314), a reversible and highly selective MAGL inhibitor. JNJ-42226314 inhibits MAGL in a competitive mode with respect to the 2-AG substrate. In rodent brain, the compound time- and dose-dependently bound to MAGL, indirectly led to CB1 occupancy by raising 2-AG levels, and raised norepinephrine levels in cortex. In vivo, the compound exhibited antinociceptive efficacy in both the rat complete Freund's adjuvant-induced radiant heat hypersensitivity and chronic constriction injury-induced cold hypersensitivity models of inflammatory and neuropathic pain, respectively. Though 30 mg/kg induced hippocampal synaptic depression, altered sleep onset, and decreased electroencephalogram gamma power, 3 mg/kg still provided approximately 80% enzyme occupancy, significantly increased 2-AG and norepinephrine levels, and produced neuropathic antinociception without synaptic depression or decreased gamma power. Thus, it is anticipated that the profile exhibited by this compound will allow for precise modulation of 2-AG levels in vivo, supporting potential therapeutic application in several central nervous system disorders. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: Potentiation of endocannabinoid signaling activity via inhibition of the serine hydrolase monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL) is an appealing strategy in the development of treatments for several disorders, including ones related to mood, pain, and inflammation. [1-(4-Fluorophenyl)indol-5-yl]-[3-[4-(thiazole-2-carbonyl)piperazin-1-yl]azetidin-1-yl]methanone is presented in this report to be a novel, potent, selective, and reversible noncovalent MAGL inhibitor that demonstrates dose-dependent enhancement of the major endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol as well as efficacy in models of neuropathic and inflammatory pain.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1124/jpet.119.262139DOI Listing
March 2020

Discovery and optimization of a novel series of pyrazolyltetrahydropyran N-type calcium channel (Ca 2.2) blockers for the treatment of pain.

Bioorg Med Chem Lett 2018 12 12;28(23-24):3780-3783. Epub 2018 Oct 12.

Janssen Research & Development, L.L.C., Welsh & McKean Roads, Spring House, PA 19477, USA.

A novel series of pyrazolyltetrahydropyran N-type calcium channel blockers are described. Structural modifications of the series led to potent compounds in both a cell-based fluorescent calcium influx assay and a patch clamp electrophysiology assay. Representative compounds from the series were bioavailable and showed efficacy in the rat CFA and CCI models of inflammatory and neuropathic pain.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bmcl.2018.10.007DOI Listing
December 2018

Characterization of the trigeminovascular actions of several adenosine A receptor antagonists in an in vivo rat model of migraine.

J Headache Pain 2018 May 25;19(1):41. Epub 2018 May 25.

Division of Vascular Medicine and Pharmacology, Department of Internal Medicine, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, Dr Molewaterplein 50, 3015, GE, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Background: Migraine is considered a neurovascular disorder, but its pathophysiological mechanisms are not yet fully understood. Adenosine has been shown to increase in plasma during migraine attacks and to induce vasodilation in several blood vessels; however, it remains unknown whether adenosine can interact with the trigeminovascular system. Moreover, caffeine, a non-selective adenosine receptor antagonist, is included in many over the counter anti-headache/migraine treatments.

Methods: This study used the rat closed cranial window method to investigate in vivo the effects of the adenosine A receptor antagonists with varying selectivity over A receptors; JNJ-39928122, JNJ-40529749, JNJ-41942914, JNJ-40064440 or JNJ-41501798 (0.3-10 mg/kg) on the vasodilation of the middle meningeal artery produced by either CGS21680 (an adenosine A receptor agonist) or endogenous CGRP (released by periarterial electrical stimulation).

Results: Regarding the dural meningeal vasodilation produced neurogenically or pharmacologically, all JNJ antagonists: (i) did not affect neurogenic vasodilation but (ii) blocked the vasodilation produced by CGS21680, with a blocking potency directly related to their additional affinity for the adenosine A receptor.

Conclusions: These results suggest that vascular adenosine A (and, to a certain extent, also A) receptors mediate the CGS21680-induced meningeal vasodilation. These receptors do not appear to modulate prejunctionally the sensory release of CGRP. Prevention of meningeal arterial dilation might be predictive for anti-migraine drugs, and since none of these JNJ antagonists modified per se blood pressure, selective A receptor antagonism may offer a novel approach to antimigraine therapy which remains to be investigated in clinical trials.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s10194-018-0867-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5970128PMC
May 2018

A multiple-dose double-blind randomized study to evaluate the safety, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and analgesic efficacy of the TRPV1 antagonist JNJ-39439335 (mavatrep).

Scand J Pain 2018 04;18(2):151-164

Neuroscience Therapeutic Area, Janssen Research and Development, LLC, NJ, USA, Tel.: 609-730-6779.

Background And Aims: This double-blind (DB), randomized, placebo-controlled, sequential-group, multiple-ascending dose, phase 1 study evaluated safety, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of JNJ-39439335 in healthy men (part 1), and in participants with knee osteoarthritis (part 2).

Methods: Both parts 1 and 2 consisted of screening (upto 21 days), 21-day DB treatment phase [eight participants/group: JNJ-39439335 (part 1: 2-50 mg; part 2: 10-50 mg): n=6; placebo: n=2] and follow-up (total study duration ~10 weeks).

Results: Plasma concentrations and systemic exposure of JNJ-39439335 increased in slightly higher than dose-proportional fashion (steady-state reached by day 14). Renal excretion of JNJ-39439335 was negligible. Marked dose-related increases in pharmacodynamic heat pain assessments were observed in JNJ-39439335-treated participants, which persisted throughout the treatment with no signs of tolerance with repeated dosing. No effect on pharmacodynamic cold pain or mechanical pain assessments were seen. Effects on pharmacodynamic capsaicin-induced flare assessments in JNJ-39439335-treated participants versus placebo were consistent with effects observed with single-dose, and did not demonstrate tolerance with multiple dosing. In participants with knee osteoarthritis, significant improvements versus placebo were observed in a stair-climbing-induced pain model. All JNJ-39439335-treated participants reported ≥1 treatment-emergent adverse events (TEAE); most common (≥50% incidence) TEAEs in part 1 were feeling hot (79%), thermohypoesthesia (71%), paresthesia (58%) and feeling cold (50%), and in part 2, were minor thermal burns (50%).

Conclusions: JNJ-39439335 (doses 2-50 mg) was well-tolerated, and associated with acceptable multiple-dose pharmacokinetic profile. JNJ-39439335 demonstrated sustained pharmacodynamic effects (heat pain perception, heat pain latency, capsaicin-induced flare), and an efficacy signal in participants with osteoarthritis pain.

Implications: Given the efficacy signal observed and the unique safety profile, larger phase 2 studies are needed to better understand the potential of JNJ-39439335 in the treatment of chronic pain. Analgesic efficacy of lower doses administered over a longer period of time and improved patient counseling techniques to reduce the minor thermal burns can be explored to minimize the adverse events.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/sjpain-2017-0184DOI Listing
April 2018

A randomized study to evaluate the analgesic efficacy of a single dose of the TRPV1 antagonist mavatrep in patients with osteoarthritis.

Scand J Pain 2017 10 24;17:134-143. Epub 2017 Aug 24.

Janssen Research & Development, LLC, Titusville, NJ, USA.

Background/aims: Transient receptor potential vanilloid type 1 (TRPV1) receptor antagonists have been evaluated in clinical studies for their analgesic effects. Mavatrep, a potent, selective, competitive TRPV1 receptor antagonist has demonstrated pharmacodynamic effects consistent with target engagement at the TRPV1 receptor in a previous single-dose clinical study. The current study was conducted to evaluate the analgesic effects of a single dose of mavatrep.

Methods: In this randomized, placebo- and active-controlled, 3-way crossover, phase 1b study, patients with painful knee osteoarthritis were treated with a single-dose of 50mg mavatrep, 500mg naproxen twice-daily, and placebo. Patients were randomized to 1 of 6 treatment sequences. Each treatment sequence included three treatment periods of 7 days duration with a 7 day washout between each treatment period. The primary efficacy evaluation was pain reduction measured by the 4-h postdose sum of pain intensity difference (SPID) based on the 11-point (0-10) Numerical Rating Scale (NRS) for pain after stair-climbing (PASC). The secondary efficacy evaluations included 11-point (0-10) NRS pain scores entered into the Actiwatch between clinic visits, the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Arthritis Index subscales (WOMAC) questionnaire, and use of rescue medication. Safety and tolerability of single oral dose mavatrep were also assessed.

Results: Of 33 patients randomized, 32 completed the study. A statistically significantly (p<0.1) greater reduction in PASC was observed for mavatrep versus placebo (4-h SPID least square mean [LSM] [SE] difference: 1.5 [0.53]; p=0.005 and 2-h LSM [SE] difference of PID: 0.7 [0.30]; p=0.029). The mean average daily current pain NRS scores were lower in the mavatrep and naproxen treatment arm than in the placebo arm (mavatrep: 7 day mean [SD], 3.72 [1.851]; naproxen: 7 day mean [SD], 3.49 [1.544]; placebo: 7 day mean [SD], 4.9 [1.413]). Mavatrep showed statistically significant improvements as compared with placebo on the WOMAC subscales (pain on days 2 [p=0.049] and 7 [p=0.041], stiffness on day 7 [p=0.075]), and function on day 7 [p=0.077]). The same pattern of improvement was evident for naproxen versus placebo. The mean (SD) number of rescue medication tablets taken during the 7-day treatment period was 4.2 (6.49) for mavatrep treatment, 2.8 (5.42) for naproxen, and 6.3 (8.25) for placebo treatment. All patients that received mavatrep reported at least 1 treatment emergent adverse event (TEAE). Feeling cold (79%), thermohypoesthesia (61%), dysgeusia (58%), paraesthesia (36%), and feeling hot (15%) were the most common TEAEs in the mavatrep group. Total 9% patients receiving mavatrep experienced minor thermal burns. No deaths or serious AEs or discontinuations due to AEs occurred.

Conclusion: Overall, mavatrep was associated with a significant reduction in pain, stiffness, and physical function when compared with placebo in patients with knee osteoarthritis. Mavatrep's safety profile was consistent with its mechanism of action as a TRPV1 antagonist.

Implications: Further studies are required to evaluate whether lower multiple doses of mavatrep can produce analgesic efficacy while minimizing adverse events, as well as the potential for improved patient counselling techniques to reduce the minor thermal burns related to decreased heat perception.

Trial Registration: 2009-010961-21 (EudraCT Number).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.sjpain.2017.07.021DOI Listing
October 2017

Jeffrey Scott Nye.

Neuropsychopharmacology 2017 Jul;42(8):1748

Johnson &Johnson, New Brusnwick, NJ, USA.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/npp.2017.62DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5518911PMC
July 2017

TRPV1 antagonist JNJ-39439335 (mavatrep) demonstrates proof of pharmacology in healthy men: a first-in-human, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, sequential group study.

Pain Rep 2016 Oct 30;1(4):e576. Epub 2016 Oct 30.

Neuroscience Department, Janssen Research & Development, LLC, Titusville, NJ, USA.

This double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, sequential group, phase 1 study was designed to assess in healthy men, the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics, and translational pharmacodynamics of JNJ-39439335 (mavatrep), a transient receptor potential vanilloid subtype 1 antagonist; it was preceded by a translational preclinical study which assessed the ability of JNJ-39439335 to block capsaicin-induced flare in rats, providing predictive pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic data that informed the subsequent phase 1 clinical study. The clinical study consisted of 2 parts: part 1 assessed pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, including heat pain detection threshold and heat pain tolerance, of JNJ-39439335, and part 2 assessed pharmacodynamic effect of JNJ-39439335 on capsaicin-induced flare and sensory testing on naïve and UVB-sensitized skin in humans. Plasma concentrations of JNJ-39439335 peaked at approximately 2 to 4 hours postdose, then declined multiexponentially, with a prolonged terminal phase (half-life: 30-86 hours). Renal clearance of JNJ-39439335 was negligible. JNJ-39439335 treatment resulted in clear, consistent dose-related increases in heat pain detection threshold, heat pain tolerance, and heat pain latency. JNJ-39439335 reduced the capsaicin-induced flare area and flare intensity, with complete blocking observed in the 50-mg dose group at 144 hours postdose. This was consistent with the capsaicin flare results observed with JNJ-39439335 in rats. The most common adverse events observed in the clinical study were related to increases in body temperature after JNJ-39439335 treatment; these were predominately mild to moderate in severity with no evidence of exposure dependence up to 225 mg. JNJ-39439335 was well tolerated at single doses up to 225 mg, recommending its suitability for further clinical development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/PR9.0000000000000576DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5741288PMC
October 2016

Benzo[d]imidazole Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid 1 Antagonists for the Treatment of Pain: Discovery of trans-2-(2-{2-[2-(4-Trifluoromethyl-phenyl)-vinyl]-1H-benzimidazol-5-yl}-phenyl)-propan-2-ol (Mavatrep).

J Med Chem 2015 May 15;58(9):3859-74. Epub 2015 Apr 15.

Reported herein is the design, synthesis, and pharmacologic characterization of a class of TRPV1 antagonists constructed on a benzo[d]imidazole platform that evolved from a biaryl amide lead. This design composes three sections: a 2-substituted 5-phenyl headgroup attached to the benzo[d]imidazole platform, which is tethered at the two position to a phenyl tail group. Optimization of this design led to the identification of 4 (mavatrep), comprising a trifluoromethyl-phenyl-vinyl tail. In a TRPV1 functional assay, using cells expressing recombinant human TRPV1 channels, 4 antagonized capsaicin-induced Ca(2+) influx, with an IC50 value of 4.6 nM. In the complete Freund's adjuvant- and carrageenan-induced thermal hypersensitivity models, 4 exhibited full efficacy, with ED80 values of 7.8 and 0.5 mg/kg, respectively, corresponding to plasma levels of 270.8 and 9.2 ng/mL, respectively. On the basis of its superior pharmacologic and safety profile, 4 (mavatrep) was selected for clinical development for the treatment of pain.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.jmedchem.5b00132DOI Listing
May 2015

Global deletion of MGL in mice delays lipid absorption and alters energy homeostasis and diet-induced obesity.

J Lipid Res 2015 06 4;56(6):1153-71. Epub 2015 Apr 4.

Department of Nutritional Sciences Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901 Rutgers Center for Lipid Research, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901.

Monoacylglycerol lipase (MGL) is a ubiquitously expressed enzyme that catalyzes the hydrolysis of monoacylglycerols (MGs) to yield FFAs and glycerol. MGL contributes to energy homeostasis through the mobilization of fat stores and also via the degradation of the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoyl glycerol. To further examine the role of MG metabolism in energy homeostasis, MGL(-/-) mice were fed either a 10% (kilocalories) low-fat diet (LFD) or a 45% (kilocalories) high-fat diet (HFD) for 12 weeks. Profound increases of MG species in the MGL(-/-) mice compared with WT control mice were found. Weight gain over the 12 weeks was blunted in both diet groups. MGL(-/-) mice were leaner than WT mice at both baseline and after 12 weeks of LFD feeding. Circulating lipids were decreased in HFD-fed MGL(-/-) mice, as were the levels of several plasma peptides involved in glucose homeostasis and energy balance. Interestingly, MGL(-/-) mice had markedly reduced intestinal TG secretion following an oral fat challenge, suggesting delayed lipid absorption. Overall, the results indicate that global MGL deletion leads to systemic changes that produce a leaner phenotype and an improved serum metabolic profile.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1194/jlr.M058586DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4442873PMC
June 2015

Discovery and SAR of a novel series of 2,4,5,6-tetrahydrocyclopenta[c]pyrazoles as N-type calcium channel inhibitors.

Bioorg Med Chem Lett 2014 May 28;24(9):2057-61. Epub 2014 Mar 28.

Janssen Research and Development, LLC, 1400 McKean Rd., Spring House, PA 19477, USA.

A novel series of substituted 2,4,5,6-tetrahydrocyclopenta[c]pyrazoles were investigated as N-type calcium channel blockers (Cav2.2 channels), a chronic pain target. One compound was active in vivo in the rat CFA pain model.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bmcl.2014.03.063DOI Listing
May 2014

Discovery and SAR of novel tetrahydropyrrolo[3,4-c]pyrazoles as inhibitors of the N-type calcium channel.

Bioorg Med Chem Lett 2014 May 27;24(9):2053-6. Epub 2014 Mar 27.

Janssen Research and Development, LLC, 1400 McKean Rd., Spring House, PA 19477, USA.

A novel series of substituted tetrahydropyrrolo[3,4-c]pyrazoles were investigated as blockers of the N-type calcium channel (Cav2.2 channels), a chronic pain target.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bmcl.2014.03.062DOI Listing
May 2014

Transient receptor potential melastatin 8 channel inhibition potentiates the hypothermic response to transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 activation in the conscious mouse.

Crit Care Med 2014 May;42(5):e355-63

1Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX. 2Department of Anesthesiology, Tongji Hospital, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, Hubei, China. 3Department of Anesthesiology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX. 4Drug Discovery, Janssen Research & Development, LLC, Spring House, PA.

Objectives: Mild decrease in core temperature (therapeutic hypothermia) provides lasting neuroprotection following cardiac arrest or cerebral ischemia. However, current methods for producing therapeutic hypothermia trigger a cold-defense response that must be countered by sedatives, muscle paralytics, and mechanical ventilation. We aimed to determine methods for producing hypothermia in the conscious mouse by targeting two transient receptor potential channels involved in thermoregulation, two transient receptor potential (TRP) channels involved in thermoregulation, TRP vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) and TRP melastatin 8 (TRPM8).

Design: Controlled prospective animal study.

Setting: Research laboratory at academic medical center.

Subjects: Conscious unrestrained young and aged male mice.

Interventions: Mice were treated with the TRPV1 agonist dihydrocapsaicin, a TRPM8 inhibitor ("compound 5"), or their combination and the effects on core temperature (Tcore) were measured by implanted thermocouples and wireless transponders.

Measurements And Main Results: TRPV1 agonist dihydrocapsaicin produced a dose-dependent (2-4 mg/kg s.c.) drop in Tcore. A loading dose followed by continuous infusion of dihydrocapsaicin produced a rapid and prolonged (> 6 hr) drop of Tcore within the therapeutic range (32-34°C). The hypothermic effect of dihydrocapsaicin was augmented in aged mice and was not desensitized with repeated administration. TRPM8 inhibitor "compound 5" (20 mg/kg s.c.) augmented the drop in core temperature during cold exposure (8°C). When "compound 5" (30 mg/kg) was combined with dihydrocapsaicin (1.25-2.5 mg/kg), the drop in Tcore was amplified and prolonged.

Conclusions: Activating warm receptors (TRPV1) produced rapid and lasting hypothermia in young and old mice. Furthermore, hypothermia induced by TRPV1 agonists was potentiated and prolonged by simultaneous inhibition of TRPM8.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/CCM.0000000000000229DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4137592PMC
May 2014

Shivering and tachycardic responses to external cooling in mice are substantially suppressed by TRPV1 activation but not by TRPM8 inhibition.

Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 2013 Nov 4;305(9):R1040-50. Epub 2013 Sep 4.

Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics Graduate Program, Cardiovascular Sciences Track, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas;

Mild decrease of core temperature (32-34°C), also known as therapeutic hypothermia, is a highly effective strategy of neuroprotection from ischemia and holds significant promise in the treatment of stroke. However, induction of hypothermia in conscious stroke patients is complicated by cold-defensive responses, such as shivering and tachycardia. Although multiple thermoregulatory responses may be altered by modulators of thermosensitive ion channels, TRPM8 (transient receptor potential melastatin 8) and TRPV1 (TRP vanilloid 1), it is unknown whether these agents affect cold-induced shivering and tachycardia. The current study aimed to determine the effects of TRPM8 inhibition and TRPV1 activation on the shivering and tachycardic responses to external cooling. Conscious mice were treated with TRPM8 inhibitor compound 5 or TRPV1 agonist dihydrocapsaicin (DHC) and exposed to cooling at 10°C. Shivering was measured by electromyography using implanted electrodes in back muscles, tachycardic response by electrocardiography, and core temperature by wireless transmitters in the abdominal cavity. The role of TRPM8 was further determined using TRPM8 KO mice. TRPM8 ablation had no effect on total electromyographic muscle activity (vehicle: 24.0 ± 1.8; compound 5: 23.8 ± 2.0; TRPM8 KO: 19.7 ± 1.9 V·s/min), tachycardia (ΔHR = 124 ± 31; 121 ± 13; 121 ± 31 beats/min) and drop in core temperature (-3.6 ± 0.1; -3.4 ± 0.4; -3.6 ± 0.5°C) during cold exposure. TRPV1 activation substantially suppressed muscle activity (vehicle: 25.6 ± 3.0 vs. DHC: 5.1 ± 2.0 V·s/min), tachycardia (ΔHR = 204 ± 25 vs. 3 ± 35 beats/min) and produced a profound drop in core temperature (-2.2 ± 0.6 vs. -8.9 ± 0.6°C). In conclusion, external cooling-induced shivering and tachycardia are suppressed by TRPV1 activation, but not by TRPM8 inhibition. This suggests that TRPV1 agonists may be combined with external physical cooling to achieve more rapid and effective hypothermia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/ajpregu.00296.2013DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3840321PMC
November 2013

Arylglycine derivatives as potent transient receptor potential melastatin 8 (TRPM8) antagonists.

Bioorg Med Chem Lett 2013 Apr 4;23(7):2234-7. Epub 2013 Feb 4.

Janssen Research & Development, L.L.C., Welsh & McKean Roads, Spring House, PA 19477, USA.

A series of arylglycine-based analogs was synthesized and tested for TRPM8 antagonism in a cell-based functional assay. Following structure-activity relationship studies in vitro, a number of compounds were identified as potent TRPM8 antagonists and were subsequently evaluated in an in vivo pharmacodynamic assay of icilin-induced 'wet-dog' shaking in which compound 12 was fully effective. TRPM8 antagonists of the type described here may be useful in treating pain conditions wherein cold hypersensitivity is a dominant feature.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bmcl.2013.01.062DOI Listing
April 2013

Mechanistic and functional differentiation of tapentadol and tramadol.

Expert Opin Pharmacother 2012 Jul 15;13(10):1437-49. Epub 2012 Jun 15.

Temple University School of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, USA.

Introduction: Many opioid analgesics share common structural elements; however, minor differences in structure can result in major differences in pharmacological activity, pharmacokinetic profile, and clinical efficacy and tolerability.

Areas Covered: This review compares and contrasts the chemistry, pharmacodynamics, pharmacokinetics, and CNS 'functional activity' of tapentadol and tramadol, responsible for their individual clinical utilities.

Expert Opinion: The distinct properties of tapentadol and tramadol generate different CNS functional activities, making each drug the prototype of different classes of opioid/nonopioid analgesics. Tramadol's analgesia derives from relatively weak µ-opioid receptor (MOR) agonism, plus norepinephrine and serotonin reuptake inhibition, provided collectively by the enantiomers of the parent drug and a metabolite that is a stronger MOR agonist, but has lower CNS penetration. Tapentadol's MOR agonist activity is several-fold greater than tramadol's, with prominent norepinephrine reuptake inhibition and minimal serotonin effect. Accordingly, tramadol is well-suited for pain conditions for which a strong opioid component is not needed-and it has the benefit of a low abuse potential; whereas tapentadol, a schedule-II controlled substance, is well-suited for pain conditions requiring a strong opioid component-and it has the benefit of greater gastrointestinal tolerability compared to classical strong opioids. Both drugs offer distinct and complementary clinical options.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1517/14656566.2012.696097DOI Listing
July 2012

A novel series of pyrazolylpiperidine N-type calcium channel blockers.

Bioorg Med Chem Lett 2012 Jun 2;22(12):4080-3. Epub 2012 May 2.

Janssen Research & Development, L.L.C., Welsh & McKean Roads, Spring House, PA 19477, USA.

Selective blockers of the N-type calcium channel have proven to be effective in animal models of chronic pain. However, even though intrathecally delivered synthetic ω-conotoxin MVIIA from Conus magnus (ziconotide [Prialt®]) has been approved for the treatment of chronic pain in humans, its mode of delivery and narrow therapeutic window have limited its usefulness. Therefore, the identification of orally active, small-molecule N-type calcium channel blockers would represent a significant advancement in the treatment of chronic pain. A novel series of pyrazole-based N-type calcium channel blockers was identified by structural modification of a high-throughput screening hit and further optimized to improve potency and metabolic stability. In vivo efficacy in rat models of inflammatory and neuropathic pain was demonstrated by a representative compound from this series.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bmcl.2012.04.075DOI Listing
June 2012

Screening and characterization of human monoglyceride lipase active site inhibitors using orthogonal binding and functional assays.

J Biomol Screen 2012 Jun 6;17(5):629-40. Epub 2012 Apr 6.

GlaxoSmithKline, Oncology Research & Development, Collegeville, PA, USA.

Endocannabinoids such as 2-arachidonylglycerol (2-AG) are ligands for cannabinoid receptors that contribute to the transmission and modulation of pain signals. The antinociceptive effect of exogenous 2-AG suggests that inhibition of monoglyceride lipase (MGLL), the enzyme responsible for degrading 2-AG and arresting signaling, may be a target for pain modulation. Here we describe the characterization of MGLL ligands following a high-throughput screening campaign. Ligands were discovered using ThermoFluor, a label-free affinity-based screening tool that measures ligand binding via modulation of protein thermal stability. A kinetic fluorescent assay using the substrate 4-methylcoumarin butyrate was used to counterscreen confirmed HTS positives. A comparison of results from binding and inhibition assays allowed elucidation of compound mechanism of action. We demonstrate the limit of each technology and the benefits of using orthogonal assay techniques in profiling compounds.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1087057112441012DOI Listing
June 2012

The design and synthesis of novel, phosphonate-containing transient receptor potential melastatin 8 (TRPM8) antagonists.

Bioorg Med Chem Lett 2012 Apr 27;22(8):2922-6. Epub 2012 Feb 27.

Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Spring House, PA 19477-0776, United States.

A series of benzothiophene-based phosphonates was synthesized and many analogs within the series were shown to be potent antagonists of the TRPM8 channel. The compounds were obtained as a racemic mixture in 5 synthetic steps, and were tested for TRPM8 antagonist activity in a recombinant, canine TRPM8-expressing cell line using a fluorometric imaging plate reader (FLIPR) assay. Structure-activity relationships were developed initially by modification of the core structure and subsequently by variation of the aromatic substituents and the phosphonate ester. Compound 9l was administered intraperitoneally to rats and demonstrated engagement of the TRPM8 target in both prevention and reversal-modes in an icilin-induced 'wet-dog' shake model.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bmcl.2012.02.060DOI Listing
April 2012

Discovery of vinylcycloalkyl-substituted benzimidazole TRPM8 antagonists effective in the treatment of cold allodynia.

Bioorg Med Chem Lett 2012 Mar 28;22(5):1903-7. Epub 2012 Jan 28.

Janssen Research & Development, Welsh and McKean Roads, Spring House, PA 19477-0776, USA.

Thermosensitive transient receptor potential melastatin 8 (TRPM8) antagonists are considered to be potential therapeutic agents for the treatment of cold hypersensitivity. The discovery of a new class of TRPM8 antagonists that shows in vivo efficacy in the rat chronic constriction injury (CCI)-induced model of neuropathic pain is described.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bmcl.2012.01.060DOI Listing
March 2012

Validation of a patch clamp screening protocol that simultaneously measures compound activity in multiple states of the voltage-gated sodium channel Nav1.2.

Assay Drug Dev Technol 2011 Dec 15;9(6):628-34. Epub 2011 Jun 15.

Drug Discovery, Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development, Spring House, Pennsylvania, USA.

Hyperactivity of voltage-gated sodium channels underlies, at least in part, a range of pathological states, including pain and epilepsy. Selective blockers of these channels may offer effective treatment of such disorders. Currently employed methods to screen for sodium channel blockers, however, are inadequate to rationally identify mechanistically diverse blockers, limiting the potential range of indications that may be treated by such agents. Here, we describe an improved patch clamp screening assay that increases the mechanistic diversity of sodium channel blockers being identified. Using QPatch HT, a medium-throughput, automated patch clamp system, we tested three common sodium channel blockers (phenytoin, lidocaine, and tetrodotoxin) with distinct mechanistic profiles at Nav1.2. The single-voltage protocol employed in this assay simultaneously measured the compound activity in multiple states, including the slow inactivated state, of the channel. A long compound incubation period (10 s) was introduced during channel inactivation to increase the probability of identifying "slow binders." As such, phenytoin, which preferentially binds with slow kinetics to the fast inactivated state, exhibited significantly higher potency than that obtained from a brief exposure (100 ms) used in typical assays. This assay also successfully detected the use-dependent block of tetrodotoxin, a well-documented property of this molecule yet unobserved in typical patch clamp protocols. These results indicate that the assay described here can increase the likelihood of identification and mechanistic diversity of sodium channel blockers from a primary screen. It can also be used to efficiently guide the in vitro optimization of leads that retain the desired mechanistic properties.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/adt.2011.0375DOI Listing
December 2011

Dynamic mass redistribution as a means to measure and differentiate signaling via opioid and cannabinoid receptors.

Assay Drug Dev Technol 2011 Aug 16;9(4):362-72. Epub 2011 Feb 16.

Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development, Pennsylvania, USA.

Classically, G protein-coupled receptor activation by a ligand has been viewed as producing a defined response such as activation of a G protein, activation or inhibition of adenylyl cyclase, or stimulation of phospholipase C and/or alteration in calcium flux. Newer concepts of ligand-directed signaling recognize that different ligands, ostensibly acting at the same receptors, may induce different downstream effects, complicating the selection of a screening assay. Dynamic mass redistribution (DMR), a label-free technology that uses light to measure ligand-induced changes in the mass of cells proximate to the biosensor, provides an integrated cellular response comprising multiple pathways and cellular events. Using DMR, signals induced by opioid or cannabinoid agonists in cells transfected with these receptors were blocked by pharmacologically appropriate receptor antagonists as well as by pertussis toxin. Differences among compounds in relative potencies at DMR versus ligand-stimulated GTPγS or receptor binding endpoints, suggesting functional selectivity, were observed. Preliminary evidence indicates that inhibitors of intermediate steps in the cell signaling cascade, such as receptor recycling inhibitors, mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase/p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase inhibitors, or cytoskeletal disruptors, altered or attenuated the cannabinoid-induced response. Notable is the finding that mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 1/2 inhibitors attenuated signaling induced by the cannabinoid type 2 receptor inverse agonist AM630 but not that stimulated by the agonist CP 55,940. Thus, DMR has the potential to not only identify ligands that activate a given G protein-coupled receptor, but also ascertain the signaling pathways engaged by a specific ligand, making DMR a useful tool in the identification of biased ligands, which may ultimately exhibit improved therapeutic profiles.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/adt.2010.0347DOI Listing
August 2011

Crystal structure of a soluble form of human monoglyceride lipase in complex with an inhibitor at 1.35 Å resolution.

Protein Sci 2011 Apr 1;20(4):670-83. Epub 2011 Mar 1.

Department of Structural Biology, Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development, L.L.C., Welsh and McKean Roads, Spring House, Pennsylvania 19477, USA.

A high-resolution structure of a ligand-bound, soluble form of human monoglyceride lipase (MGL) is presented. The structure highlights a novel conformation of the regulatory lid-domain present in the lipase family as well as the binding mode of a pharmaceutically relevant reversible inhibitor. Analysis of the structure lacking the inhibitor indicates that the closed conformation can accommodate the native substrate 2-arachidonoyl glycerol. A model is proposed in which MGL undergoes conformational and electrostatic changes during the catalytic cycle ultimately resulting in its dissociation from the membrane upon completion of the cycle. In addition, the study outlines a successful approach to transform membrane associated proteins, which tend to aggregate upon purification, into a monomeric and soluble form.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/pro.596DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3081545PMC
April 2011

Design and optimization of benzimidazole-containing transient receptor potential melastatin 8 (TRPM8) antagonists.

J Med Chem 2011 Jan 3;54(1):233-47. Epub 2010 Dec 3.

Janssen Research and Development, Spring House, Pennsylvania 19477-0776, United States.

Transient receptor potential melastatin 8 (TRPM8) is a nonselective cation channel that is thermoresponsive to cool to cold temperatures (8-28 °C) and also may be activated by chemical agonists such as menthol and icilin. Antagonism of TRPM8 activation is currently under investigation for the treatment of painful conditions related to cold, such as cold allodynia and cold hyperalgesia. The design, synthesis, and optimization of a class of selective TRPM8 antagonists based on a benzimidazole scaffold is described, leading to the identification of compounds that exhibited potent antagonism of TRPM8 in cell-based functional assays for human, rat, and canine TRPM8 channels. Numerous compounds in the series demonstrated excellent in vivo activity in the TRPM8-selective "wet-dog shakes" (WDS) pharmacodynamic model and in the rat chronic constriction injury (CCI)-induced model of neuropathic pain. Taken together, the present results suggest that the in vivo antagonism of TRPM8 constitutes a viable new strategy for treating a variety of disorders associated with cold hypersensitivity, including certain types of neuropathic pain.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/jm101075vDOI Listing
January 2011

An integrated multiassay approach to the discovery of small-molecule N-type voltage-gated calcium channel antagonists.

Assay Drug Dev Technol 2010 Dec 4;8(6):685-94. Epub 2010 Nov 4.

Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development, Spring House, Pennsylvania, USA.

Abstract The N-type voltage-gated calcium channel (Cav2.2) has been intensively explored as a target for novel, small-molecule analgesic drugs because of its distribution in the pain pathway and its role in nociceptive processing. For example, Cav2.2 is localized at presynaptic terminals of pain fibers in the dorsal horn, and it serves as a downstream effector of μ-opioid receptors. Most importantly, antagonism of the channel by the highly specific and potent Cav2.2 blocker ω-conotoxin MVIIA (ziconotide) produces clinical efficacy in the treatment of severe, intractable pain. To identify novel small-molecule Cav2.2 inhibitors, we developed new tools and screening methods critical to enhance the efficiency and probability of success. First, we established and characterized a new cell line stably expressing the three subunits of the Cav2.2, including an α-subunit splice variant that is uniquely expressed by dorsal root ganglion neurons. Second, using this cell line, we validated and employed a fluorescence-based calcium flux assay. Third, we developed a new "medium-throughput" electrophysiology assay using QPatch-HT to provide faster turnaround on high-content electrophysiology data that are critical for studying ion channel targets. Lastly, we used a therapeutically relevant, ex vivo spinal cord calcitonin gene-related peptide-release assay to confirm activities in the other assays. Using this approach we have identified compounds exhibiting single-digit nM IC₅₀ values and with a positive correlation across assay methods. This integrated approach provides a more comprehensive evaluation of small-molecule N-type inhibitors that may lead to improved therapeutic pharmacology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/adt.2010.0311DOI Listing
December 2010

Diabetogenic effect of a series of tricyclic delta opioid agonists structurally related to cyproheptadine.

Toxicol Sci 2010 Oct 8;117(2):493-504. Epub 2010 Jul 8.

Drug Discovery, Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development, Spring House, Pennsylvania 19477, USA.

The unexpected observation of a hyperglycemic effect of some tricycle-based delta opioid receptor (DOR) agonists led to a series of studies to better understand the finding. Single administration of two novel tricyclic DOR agonists dose dependently elevated rat plasma glucose levels; 4-week toxicology studies confirmed the hyperglycemic finding and further revealed pancreatic β-cell hypertrophy, including vacuole formation, as well as bone dysplasia and Harderian gland degeneration with regeneration. Similar diabetogenic effects were observed in dog. A review of the literature on the antiserotonergic and antihistaminergic drug cyproheptadine (CPH) and its metabolites revealed shared structural features as well as similar hyperglycemic effects to the present series of DOR agonists. To further evaluate these effects, we established an assay measuring insulin levels in the rat pancreatic β-cell-derived RINm5F cell line, extensively used to study CPH and its metabolites. Like CPH, the initial DOR agonists studied reduced RINm5F cell insulin levels in a concentration-dependent manner. Importantly, compound DOR potency did not correlate with the insulin-reducing potency. Furthermore, the RINm5F cell insulin results correlated with the diabetogenic effect of the compounds in a 5-day mouse study. The RINm5F cell insulin assay enabled the identification of aryl-aryl-amine DOR agonists that lacked an insulin-reducing effect and did not elevate blood glucose in repeated dosing studies conducted over a suprapharmacologic dose range. Thus, not only did the RINm5F cell assay open a path for the further discovery of DOR agonists lacking diabetogenic potential but also it established a reliable, economical, and high-throughput screen for such potential, regardless of chemotype or target pharmacology. The present findings also suggest a mechanistic link between the toxicity observed here and that underlying Wolcott-Rallison Syndrome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/toxsci/kfq200DOI Listing
October 2010