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Br J Anaesth. 2008 Jul;101(1):48-58. doi: 10.1093/bja/aen107. Epub 2008 May 28.

Neuropathic pain: emerging treatments.

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AstraZeneca Research and Development, 7171 Frederick Banting Street, Montreal, Canada.


Neuropathic pain remains one of the most challenging of all neurological diseases and presents a large unmet need for improved therapies. Many mechanistic details are still lacking, but greater knowledge of overlapping mechanisms and disease comorbidities has highlighted key areas for intervention. These include peripheral and central hyperexcitability. Among the molecular drivers are ion channels (Nav1.7, Nav1.8, Nav1.3, Cav2.2, and alpha2-delta subunits) whose expression is changed during neuropathic pain and their block shows therapeutic utility. Block of a number of ligand-gated channels [transient receptor potential (TRP)V1, TRPM8, and neuronal nicotinic receptors (NNRs)], important in neural sensitization, may also prove beneficial. Other approaches, such as the modulation of peripheral excitability via CB1 receptors, reduction of spinal excitability through block of glutamate receptors (metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 and alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-proprionate), block of activated spinal neuroglial (CCR2 and P2X7), or increasing spinal inhibition by enhancing monoaminergic activity, all offer exciting opportunities currently being validated in the clinic. Finally of note is the emergence of biological approaches, for example, antibodies, siRNA, gene therapy, offering powerful therapeutic additions with which to redress the neurological disease imbalances causing neuropathic pain.

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