Studies In Laboratory Animals

To determine whether a newly-developed compound has pain-relieving properties, scientists use behavioral procedures developed in laboratory animals. In general, these procedures measure the time it takes an organism to respond to a painful stimulus, first when no drug is present and then after a drug is given. Morphine and other opioids consistently alter this and other measures of pain perception. For example, morphine increases the time it takes an animal to remove its tail from a warm water bath, as illustrated in Figure 1. It takes about 2 seconds for the monkey to remove its tail from a warm water bath if morphine is not given. A small amount of morphine increases tail-removal time to about 8 seconds; larger amounts of morphine increase the time to as much as 20 seconds. Modification of pain perception also depends on the intensity of the painful stimulus. If the water in the bath is very hot, only very large amounts of morphine will increase the time it takes animals to withdraw their tail, whereas a lesser amount of morphine will increase response time at lower temperatures. Similarly, some drugs such as BUPRENORPHINE are most effective in relieving pain when the pain is mild. Since buprenorphine also produces less dependence than morphine, it may be a very useful drug for treating mild forms of pain. By combining data about the pain-relieving effects of a drug with data about its likelihood to produce dependence, infor-

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