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Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2012 Nov;33(11):568-73. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2012 Sep 6.

Current challenges in translational pain research.

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MGH Center for Translational Pain Research, Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02114, USA.


The current gap between basic science research and the development of new analgesics presents a serious challenge for the future of pain medicine. This challenge is particularly difficult in the search for better treatment for comorbid chronic pain conditions because: (i) animal 'pain' models do not simulate multidimensional clinical pain conditions; (ii) animal behavioral testing does not assess subjective pain experience; (iii) preclinical data provide little assurance regarding the direction of new analgesic development; and (iv) clinical trials routinely use over-sanitized study populations and fail to capture the multidisciplinary consequences of comorbid chronic pain. Therefore, a paradigm shift in translational pain research is necessary to transform the current strategy from focusing on molecular switches of nociception to studying pain as a system-based integral response that includes psychosocial comorbidities. Several key issues of translational pain research are discussed in this review.

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