Current Medicinal Chemistry

Atta-ur-Rahman, FRS
Honorary Life Fellow
Kings College
University of Cambridge


Ziconotide: Neuronal Calcium Channel Blocker for Treating Severe Chronic Pain

Author(s): G. P. Miljanich

Affiliation: Elan Pharmaceuticals, Inc.,7475 Lusk Boulevard, San Diego, CA, 92121, USA.


Ziconotide (PRIALT®) is a neuroactive peptide in the final stages of clinical development as a novel non-opioid treatment for severe chronic pain. It is the synthetic equivalent of ω-MVIIA, a component of the venom of the marine snail, Conus magus. The mechanism of action underlying ziconotides therapeutic profile derives from its potent and selective blockade of neuronal N-type voltage-sensitive calcium channels (NVSCCs). Direct blockade of N-VSCCs inhibits the activity of a subset of neurons, including pain-sensing primary nociceptors. This mechanism of action distinguishes ziconotide from all other analgesics, including opioid analgesics. In fact, ziconotide is potently anti-nociceptive in animal models of pain in which morphine exhibits poor anti-nociceptive activity. Moreover, in contrast to opiates, tolerance to ziconotide is not observed. Clinical studies of ziconotide in more than 2,000 patients reveal important correlations to ziconotides non-clinical pharmacology. For example, ziconotide provides significant pain relief to severe chronic pain sufferers who have failed to obtain relief from opiate therapy and no evidence of tolerance to ziconotide is seen in these patients. Contingent on regulatory approval, ziconotide will be the first in a new class of neurological drugs: the N-type calcium channel blockers, or NCCBs. Its novel mechanism of action as a non-opioid analgesic suggests ziconotide has the potential to play a valuable role in treatment regimens for severe chronic pain. If approved for clinical use, ziconotide will further validate the neuroactive venom peptides as a source of new and useful medicines.

Keywords: ziconotide, prialt, snx-111, n-type calcium channels, pain, analgesia, analgesic, conopeptide, conotoxin

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Article Details

Page: [3029 - 3040]
Pages: 12
DOI: 10.2174/0929867043363884