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Researchers Strive for Chemotherapy Pain Relief

The history of man’s battle against cancer is centuries long, and has involved everything from prayers to radical surgeries. Though chemotherapy has offered some of the greatest chances for remission and even cure, it has also been accompanied by devastating side effects, including extreme nausea and searing pain that can go on for years. This pain is referred to in the scientific community as chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, and it represents damage to the nerves caused by chemotherapy’s toxic agents. Roughly sixty percent of chemotherapy patients experience this pain, and though its symptoms don’t generally set in until the treatment protocol has been well established, its impact can be held for years. Though there are a number of medications available to provide patients with some relief, many of them have harmful side effects. Researchers are working to find better solutions that will offer a more effective solution. These solutions are important to those suffering from all types of cancers, including mesothelioma, a rare and always fatal form of cancer.

Science has already established that there is a structure within the DNA that signals injury. This structure is known as Adenosine, and according to one researcher, “It plays an important role in many processes including pain.Its extracellular concentration can increase up to 1000 fold.” When this happens, nerve cells are activated and send a signal of pain to the central nervous system. There are three receptors that respond to the presence of adenosine, and medical researchers have determined that determining how to handle the way that these receptors respond can provide an answer to chemotherapy pain.
Scientists have successfully blocked two of the three adenosine receptors, but doing so has resulted in harmful side effects that impact the cardiovascular system. Dr. Daniela Salvemini of Saint Louis University have found an “off switch” for pain that is activated by the third adenosine receptor. It’s hoped that this discovery will lead to a solution to chronic pain.

According to Dr. Salvemini, “We have identified selective orally bioavailable agonists as potent non-narcoic analgesics.” Animal studies have shown that blocking this third receptor may provide a potent form of pain relief for chemotherapy. If found to be effect, this new treatment could prove valuable for those taking chemotherapy for the treatment of mesothelioma. Following the initial discovery, these receptors are being tested in phase II and phase III clinical trials.

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Her dreams of a writing career were diverted by a need to pay her bills. She spent a few years providing copy for a major retailer, then landed a lucrative career in advertising sales. With college bills for all three of her kids paid, she left corporate America for a return to her original goal of writing. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.

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