Neuropathic pain is a debilitating side effect of many commonly-used chemotherapy drugs, and in severe cases can result in the discontinuation of a cancer treatment. By understanding the mechanisms through which chemotherapeutics induce neuropathic pain, researchers aim to develop effective treatments designed specifically to alleviate the condition. These will combat the dose-limitation imposed on chemotherapeutics, as well as offering utility for conditions including multiple sclerosis, diabetes and HIV.
Understanding the mechanisms of chemotherapy induced neuropathic pain using iPSC-derived sensory neurons
Many commonly used chemotherapy drugs cause unpleasant side effects and complications. Of these, neuropathic pain can be particularly debilitating. Most of the current treatments for neuropathic pain are medications that were originally approved for other health disorders, such as anti-depressants and anti-seizure drugs. These have their own accompanying problems, and since no single drug is effective against all forms of neuropathic pain, it is essential that new therapeutic agents are developed specifically for the treatment of this condition.
Millions of people around the world suffer from debilitating pain. However, with impressive advances being made in pain research and drug discovery efforts, researchers are continuing to delve deeper into the molecular pathways underpinning pain, to ultimately improve both the screening of drug candidates and the quality of life for people across the world.
Innovations in biotechnology and advances in stem cell biology are currently revolutionizing biomedical research and drug discovery. One exciting breakthrough has been the ability to produce sensory neurons from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) and culture them in vitro on multi-electrode array (MEA) systems, to advance pain research and the discovery of effective pain therapies.
Millions of people around the world suffer from debilitating pain, causing immense suffering and reducing their quality of life. With the economic costs of chronic pain estimated to be up to $635 billion each year in the US alone , it’s crucial for scientists to be able to fully understand the functionality of human sensory neurons and how they respond to potential new drugs. In the race to find effective treatments, scientists commonly study in vitro neuron cultures to characterize the molecular pathways underlying pain, which can help to identify therapeutic targets and quickly screen potential drug candidates.