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Papers of the Week

Papers: 23 Mar 2019 - 29 Mar 2019

Pharmacology/Drug Development

2019 Apr

Pharmacol Rev



Editor's Pick

Core Outcome Measures in Preclinical Assessment of Candidate Analgesics.


Negus SS
Pharmacol Rev. 2019 Apr; 71(2):225-266.
PMID: 30898855.


All preclinical procedures for analgesic drug discovery involve two components: 1) a "pain stimulus" (the principal independent variable), which is delivered to an experimental subject with the intention of producing a pain state; and 2) a "pain behavior" (the principal dependent variable), which is measured as evidence of that pain state. Candidate analgesics are then evaluated for their effectiveness to reduce the pain behavior, and results are used to prioritize drugs for advancement to clinical testing. This review describes a taxonomy of preclinical procedures organized into an "antinociception matrix" by reference to their types of pain stimulus (noxious, inflammatory, neuropathic, disease related) and pain behavior (unconditioned, classically conditioned, operant conditioned). Particular emphasis is devoted to pain behaviors and the behavioral principals that govern their expression, pharmacological modulation, and preclinical-to-clinical translation. Strengths and weaknesses are compared and contrasted for procedures using each type of behavioral outcome measure, and the following four recommendations are offered to promote strategic use of these procedures for preclinical-to-clinical analgesic drug testing. First, attend to the degree of homology between preclinical and clinical outcome measures, and use preclinical procedures with behavioral outcome measures homologous to clinically relevant outcomes in humans. Second, use combinations of preclinical procedures with complementary strengths and weaknesses to optimize both sensitivity and selectivity of preclinical testing. Third, take advantage of failed clinical translation to identify drugs that can be back-translated preclinically as active negative controls. Finally, increase precision of procedure labels by indicating both the pain stimulus and the pain behavior in naming preclinical procedures.