2018 Volume 43 Issue 1 Pages 1-10
Therapeutic agents commonly used in the management of chronic pain have limited effectiveness and may be associated with issues of dependence and tolerability. Thus, a large unmet medical need exists for the development of safe and effective therapeutics for treatment of chronic pain. A novel approach includes identification of intracellular signals involved in the pain transduction pathway, such as nerve growth factor (NGF). Monoclonal antibodies targeting NGF, such as tanezumab, fulranumab and fasinumab, have been investigated for the treatment of chronic pain conditions. Due to unexpected joint adverse events in clinical studies and concerns about sympathetic nervous system toxicity in animals, these agents were placed on 2 separate partial clinical holds, which were subsequently lifted after rigorous evaluations were conducted to understand how inhibition of NGF impacts safety. To share learnings regarding the rigorous evaluation of clinical and nonclinical safety data which contributed to the removal of these partial clinical holds, this article reviews the rationale for developing agents that target NGF as potential treatments for chronic pain, describes nonclinical and clinical studies of these agents, and describes strategies used to evaluate whether inhibition of NGF has negative effects on joint or sympathetic nervous system safety.