Two recent studies demonstrate that FDA-approved drugs already in use for other purposes provide protection against chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN), a common side effect of chemotherapy, and a frequent reason for cancer patients’ cessation of treatment. The findings may help to fast track clinical testing of potential new treatments for this debilitating complication of cancer therapy.
The 2 studies focused on 2 existing medications. Metformin is a widely used, FDA-approved antidiabetic drug. FTY720 (also called fingolimod) was approved by the FDA in 2010 for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. Both were found effective in mouse studies to prevent or reverse the signs of neuropathic pain without diminishing the anticancer properties of paclitaxel or oxaliplatin. There is currently no way to prevent CIPN. Characterized by a gradual destruction of sensory nerves of the extremities, CIPN results in a combination of tingling, numbness, shooting and burning pain, and sensitivity to temperature. Read a news story about the study findings here.