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Chemical Science Scotland
Jet lag drug may aid cancer patients

Painful side effects from cancer medicines could be tackled with a drug that eases the effects of jet lag, research suggests.

The drug – known as melatonin – appeared to prevent pain caused by chemotherapy damage to nerves. It blocked harmful effects on nerve health, the study with rats shows. Experts say the findings help scientists understand more about ways to limit painful side effects of chemotherapy.

Scientists from the Universities of Edinburgh and Aberdeen focused on a common condition known as chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain (CINP), which causes tingling and pain sensation to touch and cold temperatures that can be severe enough to cause patients to limit their chemotherapy treatment.

CINP affects almost 70% of patients undergoing chemotherapy and can have severe impact on quality of life.

Everyday activities, including fastening buttons or walking barefoot, can cause pain that can persist even after the cancer is cured, meaning that some patients are unable to return to work or able to carry out household tasks.

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