Research efforts over the past two decades have helped us better understand the biological mechanisms that lead to chronic pain. Despite this, there has been limited progress in developing novel analgesics to treat sufferers of persistent pain conditions, who may account for as many as one-fifth of the population. A re-evaluation of the strategies used to discover pain-relieving drugs is needed to meet this widespread clinical need. Here, we discuss the merits of pursuing peripherally acting pain mediators. We review the significant clinical evidence that neuronal activity from the periphery is a major contributor to painful symptom production and that peripheral mediators play a substantial role in this aberrant nociceptor activity. We discuss the clinical benefits of blocking individual known mediators and describe our own approach to identify novel mediators.
- chronic pain