New drugs in psychiatry: focus on new pharmacological targets

Filippo Caraci, Gian Marco Leggio, Salvatore Salomone, Filippo Drago

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The approval of psychotropic drugs with novel mechanisms of action has been rare in recent years. To address this issue, further analysis of the pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric disorders is essential for identifying new pharmacological targets for psychotropic medications. In this report, we detail drug candidates being examined as treatments for psychiatric disorders. Particular emphasis is placed on agents with novel mechanisms of action that are being tested as therapies for depression, schizophrenia, or Alzheimer's disease. All of the compounds considered were recently approved for human use or are in advanced clinical trials. Drugs included here are new antipsychotic medications endowed with a preferential affinity at dopamine D3 receptor (cariprazine) or at glutamatergic or cannabinoid receptors, as well as vortioxetine, a drug approved for managing the cognitive deficits associated with major depression. New mechanistic approaches for the treatment of depression include intravenous ketamine or esketamine or intranasal esketamine. As for Alzheimer's disease, the possible value of passive immunotherapy with agents such as aducanumab is considered to be a potential disease-modifying approach that could slow or halt the progressive decline associated with this devastating disorder.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Journal Article
  • Review


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