| neuropathic pain

Exploring New Frontiers in Neuropathies from Cancer Treatment

National Cancer Institute Awards Grant for Validation of New Treatment Approach

Advances in chemotherapy are producing better survival rates for patients with cancer, but chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) remains a significant problem affecting anywhere from 30% to 60% of chemotherapy recipients. CIPN causes pain, tingling, and numbness in the hands and feet, as well as muscle weakness and pain, and can become so severe that treatment must be curtailed or aborted. The side effects can also persist long after treatment has concluded. Cancer researchers Jill Fehrenbacher, PhD, and Mark Kelley, PhD, from Indiana University, have been awarded a $2.3 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to pursue their testing of a targeted molecule, APX3330, as an approach to reversing or preventing CIPN in mice with cancerous tumors. Dr. Fehrenbacher, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at IU School of Medicine and a researcher at the IU Simon Cancer Center, remarked, “For patients with CIPN, this might be an option for pain relief or neuropathic symptom relief in the future. Alternatively, for patients undergoing chemotherapy treatments, it might be something we can administer alongside the chemotherapy drugs so they never develop CIPN.”

The mechanisms that provoke CIPN are poorly understood, and treatments for prevention or control of the condition do not presently exist. In 2017, Kelley, Fehrenbacher, and colleagues reported that a protein, APE1/Ref1, could alter the function of sensory neurons and that APX3330 was effective in limiting the ability of APE1 to promote tumor growth and spread. Of the new grant, Dr. Kelley commented, “It’s very rewarding to receive funding for these studies from the NCI in continued support of our efforts to further advance APX3330 for anti-CIPN studies, both in the lab as well as in the clinic. The critical element of this grant is that we also are validating our preliminary results that the drug does not compromise the ability of the chemotherapy to kill the cancer cells.”

Read about the study objectives.