One Shot for Chemo Pain

I recently read an article on a shot that may block chemo pain for several weeks, which was written by Catharine Paddock Ph.D. and fact-checked by Tim Newman. The possibility to relieve persistent pain that can follow chemotherapy with a natural protein that blocks the underlying inflammation process in the cells has been discovered.

The new research tested the effect of a protein called apolipoprotein A-1 binding protein (AIBP) in mice with chemotherapy-induced pain. If this can be proven to be effective in humans, it could offer an alternative to opioids, of which we all know carries the risk of addiction.

The new study was led by the University of California San Diego in La Jolla and is published in the journal Cell Reports. The report reveals how one spinal injection of AIBP alleviated the chemotherapy-induced pain in mice without side effects for 2 months.

This protein binds to a cell surface protein called toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) that plays a key role in recognizing the infection and activates the immune system. The AIPB switched off the mice’s TLR4 receptors and thus effectively prevented and reversed inflammation and cell processes that dealt with the pain. Dr. Tony L. Yaksh is a professor in the Department of Anesthesiology at UC San Diego School of Medicine who believes inhibiting the TLR4 receptor with AIBP actually modifies the pain processing systems themselves. Most pain meds, including opioids, work by deepening perception of pain without actually switching off its source, which remains active.

Yaksh believes that the new approach, inhibiting the TLR4 receptor with AIBP, actually modifies the pain processing systems themselves. Cancer treatment comes with the common side effect of pain that can significantly impair the quality of life. Even the slightest touch can cause pain. Around 39% of the 1.7 million people in the U.S. diagnosed with cancer each year experience pain as a result of the disease or its treatment.

AIBP spinal injection completely reversed the chemotherapy-induced pain in mice, without altering the animals’ motor functions and the effect lasted for 2 months. Ways to administer AIBP systemically is already being worked on, but they do suggest that most people would probably choose to have an injection in their spine every few months rather than live with persistent pain.

It is not suggested that opiates should be dropped as a treatment for persistent pain, as that would be a tragedy. It would be a greater tragedy though if they didn’t support work to find a substitute for systemic opiates, if for no other reason than to reduce their presence in our society.

Dr Fredda Branyon