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Biochem Pharmacol. 2011 Jun 15;81(12):1388-407. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2010.12.017. Epub 2011 Jan 7.

Translational research in addiction: toward a framework for the development of novel therapeutics.

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Behavioral Pharmacology, PsychoGenics, Inc., 765 Old Saw Mill River Rd., Tarrytown, NY 10591, USA.


The development of novel substance use disorder (SUD) therapeutics is insufficient to meet the medical needs of a growing SUD patient population. The identification of translatable SUD models and tests is a crucial step in establishing a framework for SUD therapeutic development programs. The present review begins by identifying the clinical features of SUDs and highlights the narrow regulatory end-point required for approval of a novel SUD therapeutic. A conceptual overview of dependence is provided, followed by identification of potential intervention targets in the addiction cycle. The main components of the addiction cycle provide the framework for a discussion of preclinical models and their clinical analogs, all of which are focused on isolated behavioral end-points thought to be relevant to the persistence of compulsive drug use. Thus, the greatest obstacle to successful development is the gap between the multiplicity of preclinical and early clinical end-points and the regulatory end-point of sustained abstinence. This review proposes two pathways to bridging this gap: further development and validation of the preclinical extended access self-administration model; inclusion of secondary end-points comprising all of the measures highlighted in the present discussion in Phase 3 trials. Further, completion of the postdictive validation of analogous preclinical and clinical assays is of high priority. Ultimately, demonstration of the relevance and validity of a variety of end-points to the ultimate goal of abstinence will allow researchers to identify truly relevant therapeutic mechanisms and intervention targets, and establish a framework for SUD therapeutic development that allows optimal decision-making and resource allocation.

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