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PerPain: New research consortium to improve treatment response of chronic musculoskeletal pain disorders through a personalized therapy approach
6th August 2020

With a budget of approx. 2,100,000€, the BMBF funds the new research consortium “Improving outcomes in chronic musculoskeletal pain through a personalized medicine approach using cross-illness multilevel assessments and mechanism-based interventions” that involves two groups at the Central Institute of Mental Health represented by the Institute of Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience (Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Dr. h.c. Herta Flor and Dr. Martin Löffler as co-investigator) and the Department of Public Mental Health (Prof. Dr. Ulrich Reininghaus). The consortium also involves the Department of General Internal Medicine and Psychosomatics at the Heidelberg University Hospital with the coordinator Prof. Dr. med. Jonas Tesarz. The Department Data Analysis and Modeling in Medicine, Mannheim Institute for Intelligent Systems in Medicine, Medical Faculty Mannheim of Heidelberg University (Prof. Dr. Jürgen Hesser) and the Interdisciplinary Center for Clinical Trials, University Medical Centre of the Johannes Gutenberg‐University Mainz (Dr. Michael Hopp) are also involved.

The overarching goal of this research consortium is to identify psychobiological subgroups of chronic pain patients who show specific profiles of pain chronicity and to assign them to tailored mechanism-based treatment options in order to improve treatment response in general. By merging existing databases, a stratification tool for comprehensive phenotyping of patients with chronic pain will be developed and refined in a large study cohort of more than 300 patients. In a randomized pilot study the feasibility, safety and effectiveness of personalized pain therapy will be investigated. In a machine learning approach, the underlying mechanisms of the development and treatment of chronic pain will be assessed using innovative ecological momentary assessment, psycho-physiological profiles, brain imaging data, and biomarkers.

The interdisciplinary consortium allows to investigate the underlying mechanisms of chronic pain, to develop clinical decision- and therapy allocation-trees, and to contribute to an improvement of efficacy and cost-effectiveness of chronic pain treatment by personalized treatment allocation.