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The Opioid Crisis and the Future of Addiction and Pain Therapeutics: Opportunities, Tools, and Technologies Symposium will highlight challenges and opportunities in the pre-competitive, preclinical stage of development for addiction- and pain-related medications and provide a framework for more focused efforts within the research community. There has been a dramatic increase in individuals who misuse and subsequently become addicted to opiates.
The current "opioid crisis" is now a public health burden resulting in deaths, debilitation and significant social and economic impact. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-termSM) Initiative addresses multiple challenges, including the development of currently unavailable non-addictive pain medications, medical interventions for opioid overdose and new addiction treatments. The development of such medications requires concerted efforts among many researchers to enable the discovery and validation of new targets, pathways, biomarkers and therapeutic candidates. The success of such discoveries will rely heavily on the availability of biologically, physiologically and pharmacologically relevant reagents, assays, model systems and validated probe compounds that need to be both reproducible and highly predictive of efficacy in humans. The symposium goals are to (1) identify next generation targets and pathways for pain and addiction treatment, (2) highlight lessons learned from successes and failures with current pain and addiction targets, (3) discuss biomarkers to enable clinical trials, (4) describe more predictive in vitro, in vivo and ex vivo assays for pain and addiction to validate new targets, pathways and clinical candidates and to address safety and efficacy, (5) examine new discovery technologies and methodologies for pain and addiction therapeutics (including small molecules and biologics) and (6) highlight key NIH resources and initiatives to support the development of pain and addiction therapeutics. This NIH HEAL InitiativeSM symposium is a component of the NCATS Human Cell-Based Screening Platforms and Novel Drugs to Treat Pain, Addiction and Overdose project. For more information on NCATS’ role in the NIH HEAL Initiative, visit https://ncats.nih.gov/heal.