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Pufferfish neurotoxin may serve as treatment for cancer therapy related pain
Date:6/26/2013

HACKENSACK, N.J. (June 26, 2013)- Researchers at the Brain and Spine Institute at John Theurer Cancer Center at HackensackUMC, one of the nation's 50 best hospitals for cancer, are studying a possible alternative to side effect-ridden opioid-based medications to treat cancer-related pain. The active ingredient for the treatment is Tetrodotoxin, a neurotoxin found in pufferfish.

"Chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain is a serious debilitating condition that occurs in over 40 percent of patients receiving chemotherapy," said Principal Investigator Samuel Goldlust, M.D., Co-Chief of the Brain and Spine Institute at John Theurer Cancer Center. "Tetrodotoxin has been found to be 3,000 times more potent than morphine without the negative side effects of opioids."

Caused by damage to neurons in the peripheral nervous system, chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain is one of the most common reasons that cancer patients stop their treatment early, negatively affecting patient outcomes. For some patients, the symptoms persist after chemotherapy for months, years, or even indefinitely.

Until recently, chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain, was treated primarily with opioids, anti-depressants or drugs primarily used to treat seizures. Scientists have learned more recently of the importance of sodium channels in the conduction of pain signals from peripheral nerves to the brain. Derived from a neurotoxin found in pufferfish, Tetrodotoxin targets sodium channels in the patient's peripheral nervous system. By blocking the sodium channels, Tetrodotoxin limits the conduction of pain signals to the central nervous system, offering relief from pain related to damage caused by chemotherapy.

Many species of marine pufferfish contain a large amount of Tetrodotoxin in their skin and tissues as an evolutionary adaptation to reduce predation. The dose used in this clinical trial needed for pain relief is approximately 300 times less than the total fo
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Contact: Jon Byington
jon.byington@porternovelli.com
212-601-8208
John Theurer Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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