© 2021 Maine Public
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Maine Researcher Identifies Potential Drugs for Treating Nerve Damage

A researcher in Bar Harbor has identified two drugs that could potentially be used to reverse peripheral nerve damage resulting from cancer chemotherapy and other causes.

Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory assistant professor Dr. Sandra Reiger says because many chemotherapy drugs induce nerve degeneration, about 40 percent of chemotherapy patients experience symptoms like numbness, tingling and pain.

”…and that is caused by the chemotherapeutic agents that not only effect cancer or the tumors by diminishing the tumor, but they also have side effects, unwanted side effects which leads to peripheral nerve degeneration.”

Rieger says the researchers believe that not only can their drugs promote regeneration of damaged nerves, but also prevent damage in the first place. She says the drugs would be given at the same time as the chemotherapy or a little before chemotherapy starts.

She is now collaborating with the Mayo Clilnic in Rochester, Minnesota on studies in human skin tissue.

“The next step would be to potentially develop some skin cream where we could put these inhibitors into the skin cream.”

According to Reiger, most likely the earliest the drugs would be ready for FDA approval is five years.