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Many drugs used to treat cancer cause nerve damage and nerve pain leading to loss of function and disability. The risk of cumulative toxicity to nerve tissue can limit the use of highly effective chemotherapeutic agents. The prevention and treatment of nerve toxicity caused by chemotherapy is a major clinical issue. Platinum containing drugs such as cisplatin and carboplatin, taxanes such as paclitaxel, and vinca alkaloids such as vincristine and vinblastine are important chemotherapeutic drugs that lead to nerve toxicity.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR) selectively helps protect and restore nerve tissue. ALCAR is a nerve antioxidant that improves the creation of energy in cells. ALCAR is very safe and tolerable and has proven effectiveness in treating neuropathies (nerve damage disorders) due to a variety of causes. This includes chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN). Giving ALCAR prophylactically has prevented CIPN in several experimental settings. ALCAR promotes the recovery of nerve function and nerve velocity, restored sensitivity, feeling and resistance to pain, and actually treated and decreased pain. The current study supports the use of ALCAR for treating persisting neuropathy in cancer patients treated with paclitaxel or cisplatin. The study is published in a supplement to the current issue of the journal CNS Drugs.