Researchers of the Institute of Neurosciences (IN), a joint center of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (Csic) and the Miguel Hernández University (UMH), have discovered how to prevent neuropathic pain associated with chemotherapy in colon cancer treatments, the second most diagnosed type of cancer. The study, carried out on mice, has been published in the scientific journal ‘Brain’. This finding is the result of several years of research by the Sensory Transduction and Nociception Group of the Institute of Neurosciences (Csic-UMH), in Alicante. The research has the collaboration of scientists from the company Esteve Pharmaceuticals.
Colon cancer is the second most diagnosed tumor and is the second leading cause of cancer death
“The results of our work show that treatment before chemotherapy with an antagonist of the sigma 1 receptor, a key protein in pain control, largely prevents the development of these neuropathic symptoms associated with the administration of one of the components of chemotherapy: oxaliplatin“explains the researcher Elvira de la Pena.
A high percentage of cancer patients treated with chemotherapy develop hypersensitivity to cold and touch in the extremities and mouth. It is what is known as painful neuropathy due to chemotherapeutic agents. The development of this painful neuropathy determines the maximum dose of chemotherapy administered. In addition, it compromises its efficacy and the survival of patients and forces chemotherapy to be abandoned in some cases.
Colorectal is the second most diagnosed tumor and is the second leading cause of death from cancer. His chemotherapy treatment includes the use of oxaliplatin in combination with other antitumor drugs.
Oxylaplatin causes numbness or tingling in the fingers or pain in the hands and feet when touching metal objects.
In a large number of patients, oxaliplatin causes numbness or tingling in the fingers or pain in the hands and feet when touching metal objects, going outside in cold weather, or even showering or washing hands. These discomforts can become very disabling and affect the normal performance of daily activities, such as walking or dressing.
Tactile and thermal hypersensitivity in this neuropathy are known to be associated with alterations in a molecular sensor known as the TRPA1 ion channel. This sensor was discovered by Ardem Patapoutian, recent Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
“Using biochemical techniques, we show that the TRPA1 channel needs to interact with the sigma-1 receptor, forming a molecular complex, for its correct expression on the surface of neurons. We then found that mice treated with the Sigma-1 antagonist during oxaliplatin administration normalized their response to painful stimuli.”adds De la Peña.
Tactile and thermal hypersensitivity in this neuropathy are known to be associated with alterations in a molecular sensor known as the TRPA1 ion channel.
“As in any basic research, carried out on experimental animals, we must be cautious when transferring these findings to the clinic. A clinical trial in patients is needed. However, these results are an important step in understanding this pathology and offer hope that in the future they can be used as a new therapy for the treatment and prevention of these disabling side effects of anticancer treatments.”concludes the researcher Felix Viana.
Finally, given that there are different chemotherapeutic agents and each one gives rise to a somewhat different spectrum of symptoms, in future studies the IN (UMH-Csic) researchers plan to determine whether what they have discovered for oxaliplatin can be generalized to other anticancer agents used in the treatment of different tumors.