Breaking barriers to novel analgesic drug development

Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2017 Aug;16(8):545-564. doi: 10.1038/nrd.2017.87. Epub 2017 Jun 9.


Acute and chronic pain complaints, although common, are generally poorly served by existing therapies. This unmet clinical need reflects a failure to develop novel classes of analgesics with superior efficacy, diminished adverse effects and a lower abuse liability than those currently available. Reasons for this include the heterogeneity of clinical pain conditions, the complexity and diversity of underlying pathophysiological mechanisms, and the unreliability of some preclinical pain models. However, recent advances in our understanding of the neurobiology of pain are beginning to offer opportunities for developing novel therapeutic strategies and revisiting existing targets, including modulating ion channels, enzymes and G-protein-coupled receptors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Pain / drug therapy*
  • Acute Pain / physiopathology
  • Analgesics / adverse effects
  • Analgesics / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Chronic Pain / drug therapy*
  • Chronic Pain / physiopathology
  • Drug Design
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical / methods
  • Humans
  • Substance-Related Disorders / prevention & control


  • Analgesics