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Testing pain killers on humans could save money and speed the arrival of new drugs
Date:11/8/2012

Deliberately inflicting carefully controlled painful stimuli on human volunteers and seeing how well specific drugs reduce the feeling of pain can be an effective way of testing new drugs. So conclude two researchers who reviewed the available literature on these types of tests in a paper published in the British Journal of Pharmacology.

Pain is important. It acts as an alarm mechanism, warning us that something is about to cause physical damage. It could be triggered by something physical like a cut or bruise, or a temperature driven stimulus such as extreme heat or cold. It could be caused internally by injuries where nerves get trapped. Pain can also become a long-term sensation that lasts long after the damage has occurred. In this case it is referred to as 'chronic' pain, and this can be particularly hard to treat.

The need to tackle pain is huge. A fifth of Europeans suffer from daily pain requiring treatment, with the proportion increasing in people over 70 years old. But pain control is still often insufficient or unsatisfactory because the available drugs fail to provide adequate relief or produce major side effects. Pain has therefore remained one of the major healthcare problems generating estimated socio-economic costs of $560-635 billion/year in the USA alone.

Finding new drugs is complicated because you can't measure pain directly. In animal models you have to watch animals as they respond to stimuli, and in human trials you have to get individuals to report how they feel. On top of this, the body has a number of different ways of detecting pain- generating stimuli, and each mechanism is likely to respond to a different set of pain-killing drugs.

Based in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, Bruno Georg Oertel and Jrn Ltsch started out with a theory. "We thought that if a pain-relieving drug was effective in a particular experimental pain model and also in a specific type of clinical pain, then the experimental mo
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Contact: Ben Norman
Sciencenewsroom@wiley.com
44-012-437-70375
Wiley
Source:Eurekalert

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