Research on pain MRI and newer imaging and microscopic technologies have been a boon to pain research, revealing the wide-spread distribution of pain pathways and pain centers within the brain. At the molecular level, pain researchers can now distinguish certain cells that transmit the normal “good” pain signals from the cells that are prominent in chronic pain. Investigators are tracking each step in the chemical chain that begins when a molecule makes contact with a receptor on a nerve cell membrane and ends with signals inside the cell directing specific genes in the cell’s nucleus to turn on or turn off. With each new pain molecule or gene discovery comes the potential for developing a drug that might selectively target that molecule and suppress pain. The more selective the target, the less likely are undesirable side effects like constipation, nausea, or sedation. Newer pain-relieving drugs, such as the anticonvulsant gabapentin, are signs of the progress taking place. Other pain relievers now being tested include drugs that act on a class of nicotinic receptors (the receptor that reacts to tobacco) and a drug that selectively blocks a gate that opens when a pain nerve cell fires an impulse.