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Refinement of animal models of pain: Establishment of strategies to alleviate (project is finished)

Klas Abelson

Many people suffer from different chronic pain conditions, caused by inflammatory diseases or damage to the nervous system. At the moment, there are very few treatments available that can relieve these chronic pain conditions satisfactory, which causes a lot of suffering in the patients. To develop functioning treatments against the pain, the use of laboratory animals is inevitable at the moment.

However, using animals in pain research is an ethical problem, since the animals often are subjected to various degrees of pain, which in some cases are long lasting and can’t be avoided by the animals. These animals are rarely treated with any pain medication, since there is a risk of interference with the experimental data. This is indeed true in many cases, for instance when pain behavior is studied. But in some cases, where the pathological development of the pain and inflammation is of interest, pain medication may be withheld merely as a precaution based on a suspicion rather than based on scientific data. Thus, we hypothesize that, in many cases, it would be possible to treat the animal pain models against pain without disturbing the relevant parameters, provided that the correct pain treatment is chosen. This would increase the welfare of the animals used, as well as the quality of the research.

Our research is investigating what effects there are of different pain medications on rats that are used as models for chronic inflammatory pain, with regards to both parameters relevant to the welfare of the animals and parameters relevant for the model. In a long term perspective, this knowledge can be used to establish strategies and recommendations, to avoid all unnecessary pain in laboratory rats used in pain research.

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