Chronic pain remains a major burden on society, significantly affecting millions of people and costing the populace billions annually. Despite major advances made to our understanding of pain, very few new therapies have successfully translated to clinical care. A particular shortfall in this translation is the lack of a high-throughput, commercially available in vivo assay. To address this deficit, we are refining our novel operant behavioral system for assessing pain in rodents. The central hypothesis is that operant assays can provide a sensitive, reliable, and clinically relevant way to evaluate sensory and nociceptive processing.
Three specific aims will be investigated: (1) to evaluate a peltier thermal-stimulus system for operant pain testing;(2) to develop and optimize the software control of the operant pain-testing system;and (3) to evaluate multiple-linked operant behavior box units. We will achieve these aims using the innovative operant system that we developed in the Phase I grant, which assesses thermal pain in a reward-conflict paradigm. The rationale for the proposed research is that a software-driven, in vivo system will allow for a high- throughput approach for completing behavioral pain and analgesic studies. We are developing and commercializing an innovative product that will meet these needs. We are particularly well suited to complete this work, given the pairing of Stoelting Company's expertise in developing the product and Drs. Neubert and Caudle's pain-research experience. We completed all of the Phase I proposal's milestones, and this Phase II grant will build on our success. This product line could significantly reduce the time for new pain-relieving therapies to be screened and evaluated, greatly enhancing the opportunity for discovery of a superior analgesic.
Successful development of this reliable, high-throughput operant pain-assessment device would lead to commercial success through both academic and pharmaceutical institutions. This commercialization would create a method to more quickly convey new viable pain treatments from bench to bedside;if this helped accelerate even one new effective analgesic therapy, there would be tremendous societal benefit. This project will provide a key step in reaching this goal of advancing translational pain research.
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