Selective Nav1.7 Antagonists with Long Residence Time Show Improved Efficacy against Inflammatory and Neuropathic Pain
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Selective block of NaV1.7 promises to produce non-narcotic analgesic activity without motor or cognitive impairment. Several NaV1.7-selective blockers have been reported, but efficacy in animal pain models required high multiples of the IC50for channel block. Here, we report a target engagement assay using transgenic mice that have enabled the development of a second generation of selective NaV1.7 inhibitors that show robust analgesic activity in inflammatory and neuropathic pain models at low multiples of the IC50. Like earlier arylsulfonamides, these newer acylsulfonamides target a binding site on the surface of voltage sensor domain 4 to achieve high selectivity among sodium channel isoforms and steeply state-dependent block. The improved efficacy correlates with very slow dissociation from the target channel. Chronic dosing increases compound potency about 10-fold, possibly due to reversal of sensitization arising during chronic injury, and provides efficacy that persists long after the compound has cleared from plasma.