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Chemotherapy-induced Peripheral Neuropathy

About us

Chemotherapy-induced Peripheral Neuropathy (CIPN) is a major side-effect of chemotherapy treatment, involving nerve damage as a result of receiving neurotoxic drugs as a treatment for cancer. CIPN can lead to early cessation of treatment, and up to 40% of cancer survivors experience lasting disability and diminished quality of life due to CIPN. The primary focus of our research program is to understand more about the pathophysiology of CIPN, develop better tools for assessment, and to design and implement interventions to treat and prevent CIPN.
 
Our research encompasses the following key areas:
1. Determining the functional and financial impact of CIPN
2. Developing a neurotoxicity risk profile based on clinical, neurophysiological and genetic factors
3. Utilising this knowledge to develop a CIPN assessment package for use in clinical settings, and implementing guidelines for clinical practice
4. Identifying neuroprotective strategies via the development of a CIPN animal model
5. Establishing a clinical trials network to trial interventions for the management and prevention of CIPN
 
If you are interested in any of our research projects, please see the IN FOCUS website for further information.
 
Projects
 
  • Peripheral Neuropathy in Chemotherapy-treated Patients: Predictors, Assessment strategies and Functional Outcomes 
Project description: Current chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) assessments often under-report severity and lack inter-rater reliability, while risk factors remain unclear. This study will establish a protocol of assessments to objectively evaluate CIPN severity and outcome. It will also identify correlations between neurophysiological profiles, patient-reported outcomes, functional measures and genetic factors, and between CIPN and health system costs.
 
  • National Survey of Cancer Survivors
Project description: Although chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is a major side effect of cancer treatment, its impact is poorly understood. This survey of cancer survivors will assess the impact of CIPN, collecting data on symptoms, cancer diagnosis and treatment, physical activity, and quality of life.
 
  • Treatment for chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy
Project description: This clinical trial will examine whether duloxetine reduces chronic neuropathic symptoms resulting from neurotoxic chemotherapy treatment. State of the art neurophysiological and functional testing will be used in addition to self-report measures, to get a more complete picture of the effect of duloxetine on CIPN.
 
  • An exercise and balance training program for the treatment of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy 
Project description: Individuals with chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) sometimes report balance problems, associated with loss of sensation in the feet. This study will examine an exercise and balance training intervention in conjunction with exercise physiologists, aiming to improve outcomes in CIPN.
 
  • Disease model characterisation and evaluation of novel neuroprotectant drugs
Project description: A deficit in chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) neuroprotection is the lack of evidence-based rationale for neuroprotective approaches. In collaboration with researchers at the School of Medical Sciences UNSW, we are addressing this by providing a pathway between an animal model of CIPN and clinical translation. The model focusses on immunological bases as a factor in nervous system damage, and a number of neuroprotective targets will be tested.
 
  • A systematic review of current chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy assessment and treatment strategies 
Project description: A major issue relating to chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is inadequacy of assessment methods. This review will appraise current assessment strategies, and provide a basis for development of a consensus gold standard assessment. A review of prevention and treatment methods will also be undertaken.   
 
  • Electronic patient reported outcomes in chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy 
Project description: We aim to improve assessment of chemotherapy- induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) in clinical settings using existing tools, with questionnaire data gathered via tablet and compared to clinicians’ assessment of patient symptoms.
 
 
Opportunities
 

Opportunities exist for PhD students working on projects relevant to chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy to apply for top-up stipends. We seek competitive students, who have already been granted PhD scholarship support. Please email in_focus@unsw.edu.au to discuss your interest in working with our research group.

Team

Collaborators

  • Prince of Wales Hospital
  • Chris O’Brien Lifehouse
  • Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
  • Royal North Shore Hospital
  • Royal Hospital for Women
  • Sydney Children’s Hospital
  • Mater Hospital
  • The Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital
  • Flinders Medical Centre
  • Neuroscience Research Australia
  • Centre for Health Economics Research and Evaluation, University of Technology Sydney
  • University of Sydney
  • National Centre for Cancer Survivorship
 

Grants & Funding

Cancer Institute of New South Wales Translational Program Grant, 2015-2020

Group contacts