Investigational drug therapies for the treatment of gastroparesis

Gareth J. Sanger, Pankaj Jay Pasricha

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Introduction: Gastroparesis is defined by nausea, vomiting, pain, early satiety and bloating, and characterized by delayed gastric emptying without obvious structural abnormalities. Metoclopramide is widely used, increasing gastric emptying and inhibiting nausea and vomiting. Other drugs are available in certain countries and some are used ‘off-label’ because they increase gastric emptying or inhibit emesis. However, correlation between gastroparesis symptoms and rates of gastric emptying is poor. For anti-emetic drugs, dose-ranging and Phase III trials in gastroparesis are lacking. Areas covered: Gastric motility may still be disordered, leading to nausea, even though gastric emptying is unchanged. One hypothesis is that interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC) are damaged by diabetes leading to gastric dysrhythmia and nausea. Novel approaches to treatment of nausea also include the use of ghrelin receptor agonists, highlighting a link between appetite and nausea. Expert opinion: There is an urgent need to diversify away from historical drug targets. In particular, there is a need to control nausea by regulating ICC functions and/or by facilitating appetite via ghrelin receptor agonists. It is also important to note that different upper gastrointestinal disorders (gastroparesis, chronic unexplained nausea and vomiting, functional dyspepsia) are difficult to distinguish apart, suggesting wider therapeutic opportunity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)331-342
Number of pages12
JournalExpert Opinion on Investigational Drugs
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 4 2017


  • Gastric motility
  • gastroparesis
  • ghrelin
  • interstitial cells of Cajal
  • nausea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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