21 February 2018
Chronic lower back pain is a significant disease that affects nearly 20% of the worldwide population. Along with hindering patients’ quality of life, chronic lower back pain is considered to be the second most common cause of disability among Americans. Treating chronic lower back pain is often a challenge for providers, especially in light of our current opioid epidemic. With this epidemic and an increased aging population, there is an imminent need for development of new pharmacologic therapeutic options, which are not only effective but also pose minimal adverse effects to the patient. With these considerations, a novel therapeutic agent called tanezumab has been developed and studied. Tanezumab is a humanized monoclonal immunoglobulin G2 antibody that works by inhibiting the binding of NGF to its receptors. NGF is involved in the function of sensory neurons and fibers involved in nociceptive transduction. It is commonly seen in excess in inflammatory joint conditions and in chronic pain patients. Nociceptors are dependent on NGF for growth and ongoing function. The inhibition of NGF binding to its receptors is a mechanism by which pain pathways can be interrupted. In this article, a number of recent randomized controlled trials are examined relating to the efficacy and safety of tanezumab in the treatment of chronic lower back pain. Although tanezumab was shown to be an effective pain modulator in major trials, several adverse effects were seen among different doses of the medication, one of which led to a clinical hold placed by the US Food and Drug Administration. In summary, tanezumab is a promising agent that warrants further investigation into its analgesic properties and safety profile.