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J Med Chem. 2017 Jan 12;60(1):66-88. doi: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.6b00964. Epub 2016 Oct 25.

Targeting the Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) Pathway in Drug Discovery. Potential Applications to New Therapies for Chronic Pain.

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Discovery Chemistry Research and Technologies and ‡Neurophysiology, Lilly Research Laboratories, A Division of Eli Lilly and Company , Indianapolis, Lilly Corporate Center, Indiana 46285, United States.


The neurotrophin nerve growth factor (NGF) has been implicated as a key mediator of chronic pain. NGF binds the tropomysin receptor kinase A (TrkA) and p75, resulting in the activation of downstream signaling pathways that have been linked to pro-nociception. While anti-NGF antibodies have demonstrated analgesia both preclinically and in patients, the mechanism of action of these agents remains unclear. We describe ligands targeting NGF, its receptors, and downstream/related targets. This Perspective highlights large and small molecule approaches to targeting the NGF-TrkA pathway both extra- and intracellularly. In addition, we present a strategic framework for future drug discovery efforts in this pathway beyond the targeting of NGF or its receptors. While existing tools have greatly informed NGF-mediated signaling, ongoing and future pathway research may help focus new drug discovery efforts on key novel targets and mechanisms. This may result in highly differentiated therapeutics with greater efficacy and/or improved safety profiles.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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