The current gap between basic science research and the development of new analgesics presents a serious challenge for the future of pain medicine. This challenge is particularly difficult in the search for better treatment for comorbid chronic pain conditions because: (i) animal 'pain' models do not simulate multidimensional clinical pain conditions; (ii) animal behavioral testing does not assess subjective pain experience; (iii) preclinical data provide little assurance regarding the direction of new analgesic development; and (iv) clinical trials routinely use over-sanitized study populations and fail to capture the multidisciplinary consequences of comorbid chronic pain. Therefore, a paradigm shift in translational pain research is necessary to transform the current strategy from focusing on molecular switches of nociception to studying pain as a system-based integral response that includes psychosocial comorbidities. Several key issues of translational pain research are discussed in this review.
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