Dec. 4 2019, 10-11 a.m. in Communicore C1-17
Chronic pain is a significant public health problem that costs society billions of dollars per year and causes great suffering in countless individuals. Despite the ongoing opioid epidemic, opioid-based medications are among the most prescribed for various forms of chronic pain. Recently, cannabis and cannabinoid compounds (e.g., D9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD)) have been described as having pain-alleviating properties. While these cannabinoids, particularly the less psychoactive variant, CBD, may offer alternatives to opioid treatments for pain, few well-controlled studies demonstrate analgesic efficacy, especially for CBD. While it is still unclear if cannabinoids are good stand-alone options for treating pain, cannabinoids may act as useful opioid-sparing drugs, given the substantial overlap between opioid and cannabinoid receptors in reward and pain-related pathways. Theproposed project will focus on a heuristic approach that incorporates pharmacology and novel operant behavioral assessments of both pain and substance use.
The University of Florida (UF) has outstanding addiction and pain research groups, but collaborations between these groups have lagged behind in terms of research products and extramural funding. Accordingly, a collaborative effort between the pain and addiction research groups aims to address the current opioid crisis with development of new (non-opioid) therapies for pain control. This will enable additional NIH grant submissions related to the impact of various novel pre-clinical therapies for pain relief. This is a fundamental step towards our goal of translating novel therapies to clinical use and improved chronic pain management. Given the complexity and significance of the current opioid crisis, a multidisciplinary approach is needed to address the issues associated with pain and addiction. We have accordingly assembled a multidisciplinary team of investigators from 2 different Colleges at UF with a record of accomplishment of extramural funding. Dr. Neubert (PI, College of Dentistry) has expertise in preclinical pain assessments and Drs. Setlow and Bruijnzeel (College of Medicine) are experts in addiction and behavioral pharmacology. Our long-term goal of this research program is to develop novel approaches for chronic pain treatment that maximize analgesia while minimizing abuse liability and the proposed project represents a first step in improving translational research.
Our aim is to use a nerve injury model to evaluate the effects of chronic pain on drug use in a self-administration model. We will evaluate outcome measures from our operant pain assessment system to investigate if pain influences substance use. We will evaluate different classes of drugs to characterize their abuse liability following pain induction. Additionally, we will assess the opioid-sparing effects of cannabidiol (CBD) using an operant behavioral pain assay. This work will establish a new collaborative team that will be prepared to address a clinically important (and, in our view, highly fundable) research topic. In developing this novel application, we have identified a timeline that we feel will lead to NIH funding within a 1 year window.