Skip Navigation
Image of Jephte Akakpo Image of Jephte Akakpo

Spotlight on TL1 Trainee Jephte Akakpo, Ph.D.

Jan 17, 2023

Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.

Jephte Y. Akakpo is a TL1 postdoctoral fellow and the goal of his work is to translate basic science research in drug induced toxicity into regenerative approaches to treat acute liver and kidney injury and avoid multi-organ system failure in the clinic.

Acetaminophen (APAP) overdose is the main cause of acute liver failure and many patients develop severe liver injury and subsequent acute liver failure because they seek medical attention too late after an APAP overdose. The current standard of care in the clinic for patients with an APAP overdose is N-Acetylcysteine (NAC), which facilitates glutathione re-synthesis, but is unfortunately not very effective in late presenting patients. There is a need for investigating additional therapeutic options to target cellular and molecular mechanisms of APAP-induced cell death which could complement NAC and prevent APAP-mediated liver injury in the clinic for late presenting patients.

Akakpo became captivated by this unmet clinical need and focused on carrying out comprehensive mechanistic investigations during his graduate studies where he demonstrated that 4 methylpyrazole (4MP), which is an FDA-approved drug for treatment of methanol and ethylene glycol poisoning, is also highly effective against APAP-induced liver injury in preclinical animal models. In further translational studies, Akakpo was able to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of 4MP in primary human hepatocytes and human volunteers.

“This is my most impactful contribution to science because 4MP has now progressed through human safety trials, and a clinical trial is currently ongoing to evaluate its efficacy against APAP-induced liver injury,” said Akakpo.

In addition to liver injury, APAP overdose patients also develop acute kidney injury, which has progressively been recognized as a cause of worsening patient prognosis after toxic APAP ingestion. Currently, there are no effective clinical interventions to treat APAP nephrotoxicity beside renal replacement therapy and supportive care. To make things worse, NAC does not protect against APAP induced nephrotoxicity. Thus, the development of new therapeutic interventions which can complement NAC to treat both liver and kidney injury in patients is of utmost clinical importance. This requires an understanding of the detailed underlying mechanisms involved in APAP nephrotoxicity, which unfortunately, have not been as well studied as those involved in hepatotoxicity. To address this gap, Akakpo is focusing on translational studies to investigate the cellular and molecular mechanisms of APAP induced acute kidney injury and testing the efficacy of 4methylpyrazole as a therapeutic.

“This is an exciting opportunity to impact the field of clinical and translational toxicology as this research will provide insights into the protection by 4MP against APAP-induced nephrotoxicity which would complement its hepatoprotective effects and could be rapidly tested for clinical use in the ongoing clinical trial,” he said.

A particular interest of Akakpo is in deciphering the spatial events in the pathophysiology of APAP-induced organ injury by evaluating the zone-specific metabolism of APAP in the liver and the kidney with mass spectrometry imaging. During his graduate studies, Akakpo was able to independently develop expertise in mass spectrometry analysis in the Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology at the University of Kansas Medical Center and has now started working on developing Desorption Electrospray Ionization (DESI) mass spectrometry imaging techniques. His work provided critical preliminary data that supported the purchase of the newest generation Waters Xevo TQ-XS Triple Quadrupole Mass Spectrometer attached to a dedicated Waters DESI XS mass spectrometry imaging source. Akakpo can further develop and apply this technique for identifying the molecular dynamics in the progression of APAP toxicity within specific areas of the liver and the kidney.

“This is a great opportunity to apply cutting-edge analytical techniques to toxicological problems,” he said.

While new to the TL1 program, Akakpo has had a great experience so far.

“I thought the TL1 program was just for clinicians. I saw the emails, but didn’t think it was for me,” he said. “But then I started talking to people and realized it was open to anyone and I was encouraged by colleagues to apply. Since I was funded by an F31 for my graduate studies, I was going to put in an application for an F32 (a postdoctoral fellow through the National Institutes of Health which is similar to the TL1 program) but realized the added advantage of a postdoctoral Clinical and Translational Research Training Program.”

One thing that has been valuable for him has been the grant writing and the responsible conduct of research courses he is taking as part of the TL1 dedicated curriculum.

“This has really opened for me the different views people have depending on whether they are working with patients or not,” said Akakpo. “While the responsible research training has a strong emphasis on clinical research, it has really helped me see how some populations were taken advantage of in early research programs. I’ve heard these stories before but to see how we’re combating that, so no one feels taken advantage of has been really enlightening.”

No Photo Available

Kelly Hale

Communications Coordinator

Latest Articles

View All
Frontiers logo News
Jan 24, 2023 Frontiers Has an Associate Director Opening
JUNTOS event Partner News  ·  In the Community
Jan 19, 2023 JUNTOS Vaccination Event
Image of Jephte Akakpo TL1 Trainee  ·  News
Jan 17, 2023 Spotlight on TL1 Trainee Jephte Akakpo, Ph.D.
Image of Robert White News
Jan 05, 2023 Spotlight on Robert White, Ph.D., MS – Dean of the College of Biosciences at Kansas City University (KCU)
Image of Olivia Veatch Funded Projects  ·  News
Jan 05, 2023 Spotlight on Olivia Veatch, Ph.D., MS
Image of Jen Bacani News  ·  In the Community
Jan 04, 2023 Community Partner Spotlight: Dr. Jennifer Bacani McKenney
Events  ·  In the Community
Dec 21, 2022 JUNTOS December Community Events
Frontiers logo with all partners Funded Projects  ·  News
Dec 19, 2022 Frontiers Clinical and Translational Science Institute gives six Pilot Awards
Image from JUNTOS vaccination event In the Community
Dec 15, 2022 JUNTOS Community Events
Image of Andrea Bradley Ewing News  ·  In the Community  ·  Partner News
Dec 09, 2022 Spotlight on Andrea Bradley Ewing, MPA, MA; Community Engaged Research, Health Services and Outcomes Research; Children’s Mercy Kansas City
Image of Anna Wallisch KL2 Scholar  ·  News
Dec 08, 2022 Spotlight on KL2 Scholar Anna Wallisch, Ph.D.
Image of Crawford and Ramirez News  ·  In the Community
Dec 06, 2022 Community Partner Broderick Crawford Passes Away
Image of Mock Study panel Events  ·  News  ·  Services
Dec 05, 2022 First Frontiers Mock Study Section
Photo of Rebecca Lepping Funded Projects  ·  News
Dec 01, 2022 Spotlight on Rebecca Lepping, Ph.D.
News
Nov 28, 2022 Frontiers New Tagline
Image of Stephani Stancil KL2 Scholar  ·  Funded Projects  ·  News
Nov 08, 2022 Spotlight on KL2 Scholar Stephani Stancil, Ph.D., APRN
Image of Elly Leavens TL1 Trainee  ·  Funded Projects  ·  News
Nov 08, 2022 Spotlight on TL1 Post-Doctoral Trainee Elly Leavens, Ph.D.
Image of Erin Nichols News
Nov 04, 2022 Focus on Research Informatics with Erin Nichols, Director of Research Informatics -University of Kansas Health System
Frontiers logo News
Nov 03, 2022 Call for Abstracts and Case Reports
JUNTOS logo News  ·  In the Community
Nov 01, 2022 Spotlight on JUNTOS – Center for Advancing Latino Health
Image of Romina Barral KL2 Scholar  ·  Funded Projects
Oct 14, 2022 Meet KL2 Scholar Romina Barral, M.D.
Image of Amanda Emerson KL2 Scholar  ·  Funded Projects
Oct 10, 2022 Meet KL2 Scholar Amanda Emerson
Partner Institution representatives Events  ·  News
Sep 28, 2022 Frontiers Celebrates Award Renewal
Frontiers logo News
Sep 21, 2022 University of Kansas Medical Center announces nearly $27 million NIH grant to accelerate clinical and translational research in the region
Image of Ton Mieras News  ·  In the Community
Sep 09, 2022 Spotlight on Communities Organizing to Promote Equity (COPE)- Ton Miras Neira
Image of Jennifer Villwock KL2 Scholar  ·  Funded Projects
Aug 12, 2022 Spotlight on KL2 program recipient, Jennifer Villwock, M.D.
Image of two researchers News
Aug 04, 2022 Kansas IDeA Network Provides Another Round of Funding
Image of Heather Minchew Funded Projects
Jul 13, 2022 Spotlight on Heather Minchew
Image of Scott Weir
Jul 11, 2022 Fosociclopirox AUA Thought Leadership Series
Female researcher News
Jun 14, 2022 Women Making a Difference in Research
Image of Bertha De Los Santos TL1 Trainee
Jun 14, 2022 Spotlight on Bertha De Los Santos, KU PharmD Student
Frontiers logo
Apr 28, 2022 Frontiers Patient-Community Patient Partner Hakima Payne Receives DeVerne Lee Calloway Award
Frontiers logo Funded Projects
Apr 28, 2022 Trainees at ACTS conference
Image of Laura Mussulman
Oct 29, 2021 Laura Mussulman, MA, MPH, Named Director of Clinical and Translational Science Unit Fairway
Frontiers logo
Sep 17, 2021 Researchers at 3 CTSA Institutions Collaborate to Develop a Research Network Supporting Translational Science Across the Criminal Justice Continuum
Back to Top