There may finally be an effective way of reducing the pain associated with chemotherapy affecting millions of cancer patients around the world. Two new scientific discoveries have uncovered the pathway through which chemotherapy side-effects travel and a drug that may palliate the pain.
Published by Saint Louis University professor of pharmacological and physiological sciences Daniela Salvemini, the study reports that it is possible to block and reverse the pain caused by commonly used cancer drugs like paclitaxel.
“Used commonly treat many forms of cancer, including breast, ovarian and lung cancers Paclitaxel, like many other chemotherapy drugs, is accompanied by a debilitating side effect called chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy, or CIPN in 30 to 90 percent of patients.”
On studying the drug also known as Taxol, Salvemini and her colleagues discovered that for its activation the pain pathway is reliant on sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor subtype 1 (S1PR1) in the central nervous system. They found that they could block and reverse paclitaxel-induced neuropathic pain without interfering with the drug’s anticancer effects by inhibiting this molecule.
Because a drug called Gilenya that modulates S1PR1 is already in the market, this finding has immediate relevance. The FDA-approved drug is currently used to treat multiple sclerosis. In her experiments Salvemini found that by weakening the neuro-inflammatory processes the S1PR1 modulator was able to block and reverse neuropathic pain without altering the anticancer properties of paclitaxel and another another chemotherapeutic agent, the platinum=based drug oxaliplatin, which is widely used for metastatic colon cancer and other gastrointestinal cancers.
Researchers are hopeful that they may be able not only to relieve cancer patients of debilitating pain, but also save more lives by permitting the administration of larger, potentially more effective doses of chemotherapy drugs.