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Kwan M Y, Choo A, Hanania T, Ghavami A, Beltran J, Shea J, Barboza A, Hu A, Fowler M, Rao N V, Sucholeiki I Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Feb; 20(4): 811. Published online 2019 Feb 14. doi: 10.3390/ijms20040811.

There is an unmet medical need for the development of non-addicting pain therapeutics with enhanced efficacy and tolerability. The current study examined the effects of AQU-118, an orally active inhibitor of metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) and MMP-9, in the spinal nerve ligation (SNL) rat model of neuropathic pain. Mechanical allodynia and the levels of various biomarkers were examined within the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) before and after oral dosing with AQU-118. The rats that received the SNL surgery exhibited significant mechanical allodynia as compared to sham controls. Animals received either vehicle, positive control (gabapentin), or AQU-118. After SNL surgery, the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) of those rats dosed with vehicle had elevated messenger RNA (mRNA) expression levels for MMP-2, IL1-β & IL-6 and elevated protein levels for caspase-3 while exhibiting decreased protein levels for myelin basic protein (MBP) & active IL-β as compared to sham controls. Rats orally dosed with AQU-118 exhibited significantly reduced mechanical allodynia and decreased levels of caspase-3 in the DRG as compared to vehicle controls. Results demonstrate that oral dosing with the dual active, MMP-2/-9 inhibitor, AQU-118, attenuated mechanical allodynia while at the same time significantly reduced the levels of caspase-3 in the DRG.