Challenges and opportunities in translational pain research – An opinion paper of the working group on translational pain research of the European pain federation (EFIC).

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For decades, basic research on the underlying mechanisms of nociception has held promise to translate into efficacious treatments for patients with pain. Despite great improvement in the understanding of pain physiology and pathophysiology, translation to novel, effective treatments for acute and chronic pain has however been limited, and they remain an unmet medical need. In this opinion paper bringing together pain researchers from very different disciplines, the opportunities and challenges of translational pain research are discussed. The many factors that may prevent the successful translation of bench observations into useful and effective clinical applications are reviewed, including interspecies differences, limited validity of currently available preclinical disease models of pain, and limitations of currently used methods to assess nociception and pain in non-human and human models of pain. Many paths are explored to address these issues, including the backward translation of observations made in patients and human volunteers into new disease models that are more clinically relevant, improved generalization by taking into account age and sex differences, and the integration of psychobiology into translational pain research. Finally, it is argued that preclinical and clinical stages of developing new treatments for pain can be improved by better preclinical models of pathological pain conditions alongside revised methods to assess treatment-induced effects on nociception in human and non-human animals. Significance: For decades, basic research of the underlying mechanisms of nociception has held promise to translate into efficacious treatments for patients with pain. Despite great improvement in the understanding of pain physiology and pathophysiology, translation to novel, effective treatments for acute and chronic pain has however been limited, and they remain an unmet medical need.

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Authors: André Mouraux, Kirsty Bannister, Susanne Becker, David P Finn, Gisèle Pickering, Esther Pogatzki-Zahn, Thomas Graven-Nielsen