Pain therapeutics from cone snail venoms: From Ziconotide to novel non-opioid pathways

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There have been numerous attempts to develop non-opioid drugs for severe pain, but the vast majority of these efforts have failed. A notable exception is Ziconotide (Prialt®), approved by the FDA in 2004. In this review, we summarize the present status of Ziconotide as a therapeutic drug and introduce a wider framework: the potential of venom peptides from cone snails as a resource providing a continuous pipeline for the discovery of non-opioid pain therapeutics. An auxiliary theme that we hope to develop is that these venoms, already a validated starting point for non-opioid drug leads, should also provide an opportunity for identifying novel molecular targets for future pain drugs. This review comprises several sections: the first focuses on Ziconotide as a therapeutic (including a historical retrospective and a clinical perspective); followed by sections on other promising Conus venom peptides that are either in clinical or pre-clinical development. We conclude with a discussion on why the outlook for discovery appears exceptionally promising. The combination of new technologies in diverse fields, including the development of novel high-content assays and revolutionary advancements in transcriptomics and proteomics, puts us at the cusp of providing a continuous pipeline of non-opioid drug innovations for pain. SIGNIFICANCE: The current opioid epidemic is the deadliest drug crisis in American history. Thus, this review on the discovery of non-opioid pain therapeutics and pathways from cone snail venoms is significant and timely.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Proteomics
Pages (from-to)12-20
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

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