A2CPS: Acute to Chronic Pain Signatures

Defining biomarkers for the transition from acute to chronic pain

For most people, pain goes away as soon as the injury that caused it heals. For some people, however, acute pain from an injury, surgery, or disease can linger, eventually becoming chronic pain that can last for years or even for a lifetime. Currently, a high proportion of people in the United States transition to chronic pain after an acute pain event, and this has been a contributing factor to the current opioid epidemic.

The Acute to Chronic Pain Signatures (A2CPS) program will collect data from 3,600 people who have recently had surgery or musculoskeletal injury and track them for a 6-month period. The goal is to develop a set of biomarkers, or “signatures”, that can predict whether a person will transition to chronic pain or be resilient. These signatures use measurements, including those from a patient’s genetics, genomics, inflammation, metabolic pathways, brain structure, and brain function. These will be combined with advanced statistical and artificial intelligence approaches to create a measure that predicts whether an individual person is likely to develop chronic pain. This measure will allow researchers to develop better, more individualized treatments for patients and better understand the biological bases of pain.

This initiative is funded through the National Institutes of Health Common Fund, which supports cross-cutting programs that are expected to have exceptionally high impact.

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