The discovery and development of analgesics: new mechanisms, new modalities

J Clin Invest. 2010 Nov;120(11):3753-9. doi: 10.1172/JCI43195. Epub 2010 Nov 1.


Despite intensive research into pain mechanisms and significant investment in research and development, the majority of analgesics available to prescribers and patients are based on mechanistic classes of compounds that have been known for many years. With considerable ingenuity and innovation, researchers continue to make the best of the mechanistic approaches available, with novel formulations, routes of administration, and combination products. Here we review some of the mechanisms and modalities of analgesics that have recently entered into clinical development, which, coupled with advances in the understanding of the pathophysiology of chronic pain, will hopefully bring the promise of new therapeutics that have the potential to provide improved pain relief for those many patients whose needs remain poorly met.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics* / chemical synthesis
  • Analgesics* / therapeutic use
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use
  • Cannabinoids / therapeutic use
  • Chronic Disease / drug therapy
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Drug Design*
  • Humans
  • Ion Channels / metabolism
  • Microglia / metabolism
  • Nerve Growth Factor / immunology
  • Pain / drug therapy*
  • Pain / physiopathology


  • Analgesics
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Cannabinoids
  • Ion Channels
  • Nerve Growth Factor