Chronic pain is a major problem that significantly affects the quality of life of millions and costs our health care system billions of dollars annually. Despite major advances in our understanding of the biology and pharmacology of pain few new therapies have emerged. One significant factor contributing to this failure is the lack of a high- throughput assay to assess pain therapeutics in rodents. In this application we propose to automate and validate a high-throughput instrument to evaluate chronic pain in rats. The instruments we propose will be based on the recently introduced technology of multi- touch input devices as well as accelerometers. We will develop software to automate the scoring of historically validated behaviors which spontaneously occur in the widely used formalin pain test. This software will be validated by comparison to data obtained by an expert human observer. The product we envision is a validated, automated, user-friendly, high-throughput chronic pain testing device. We are particularly well suited to carry out this development as we have recruited top experts in the pain and pattern recognition fields, have a great deal of experience building accelerometers and animal testing instruments and have a patent pending on the use of multi-touch devices for behavioral testing (#61416417).
Assessing the effect of pain and analgesics in rats is a slow and costly process that creates a bottleneck in preclinical pain research. Successful development of the proposed system would alleviate this bottleneck by creating a rapid, automated and sensitive means to obtain a behavioral measure of pain in rats. This tool would advance research interests across many areas of chronic pain research.