An engineering approach to reduce pain of chemotherapy

cancer painPurdue University researchers are taking a closer look at the painful side effects from some chemotherapy treatments. (Stock photo)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A study published in the American Journal of Managed Care states that the number of patients requiring first-line chemotherapy is expected to increase by more than 50%, from 9.8 million to 15 million, from 2018 to 2040.

One of the most common side effects for those undergoing chemotherapy is peripheral neuropathy, a set of symptoms caused by damage to nerves that control the sensations and movements of arms, legs, hands and feet. The issue can be so intense in children that they can have trouble with simple handwriting and walking.

Now, Purdue University pain researchers and engineers are working with medical experts at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, a metabolite profiling expert at Bindley Bioscience Center, and applied mathematicians at Max Planck Institute in Germany. They are working to develop methods to better predict which patients will have side effects from specific chemotherapy drugs and develop therapeutic cures for it.

They have studied patient data to specifically look for biomarkers that are linked to chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. They developed machine learning models that can help in predicting this side effect during the early stage of chemotherapeutic treatment, and have developed a user-friendly tool to help physicians predict susceptibility of patients

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