Improving the validity and translation of preclinical research

Pratt, Judith A. and Robinson, Emma S. J. and Fernandes, Cathy and Heal, David and Stanford, S Clare (2022) Improving the validity and translation of preclinical research. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 36 (7). pp. 779-780. ISSN 1461-7285 (

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The Oct 2021 edition of J. Psychopharmacology focussed on the contemporary topic of translational psychopharmacology. Translational research is critical for the development of early interventions and improved therapeutics for mental health conditions. In this respect, the continual updating of information gained from reciprocal forward (preclinical) and reverse (clinical) translational approaches is necessary. Despite the enthusiasm for translational psychopharmacology in the preclinical research community, there are many challenges if we are to achieve the crucial goal of developing therapies with superior efficacy and tolerability over current drugs for neuropsychiatric conditions. At a recent meeting of a preclinical subpanel of the J. Psychopharmacology editorial board, members debated opportunities to improve the validity and translation of preclinical research models. A particular focus being the importance of understanding the clinical relevance of a model and its readouts and how well the mechanisms associated with those readouts and arising novel drug targets translate to the clinic. Importantly, consideration was given to moving away from pharmacological models towards the development of approaches which recapitulate more clinically relevant readouts. Some key points are summarised below.