Saint Louis University professor of pharmacological and physiological sciences Daniela Salvemini found a molecular pathway by which a painful chemotherapy side effect happens and a drug that may be able to stop it.
“The chemotherapy drug paclitaxel is widely used to treat many forms of cancer, including breast, ovarian and lung cancers,” said Salvemini.
“Though it is highly effective, the medication, like many other chemotherapy drugs, is frequently accompanied by a debilitating side effect called chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy, or CIPN,” she added.
In addition to causing suffering to patients, CIPN is often a limiting factor when it comes to treatment. Salvemini and her colleagues studied paclitaxel, which is also known as Taxol, and discovered that the pain pathway is dependent on activation of S1PR1 in the central nervous system.
This engages a series of damaging neuro-inflammatory processes leading to pain. By inhibiting this molecule, they found that they could block and reverse paclitaxel-induced neuropathic pain without interfering with the drug’s anti-cancer effects. The study appeared in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.