What is ‘chemo mouth’ and could a brand new treatment offer relief?

By Isabel Cameron

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images
© Getty Images

Related tags Chemotherapy Cancer Drug delivery Clinical trials

‘Chemo mouth’, otherwise known as oral mucositis, has emerged as the most significant adverse event in oncology, according to a National Comprehensive Cancer Network task force.

The unpleasant condition causes swelling, irritation, bleeding and painful sores inside a patients mouth.

It can negatively affect diet, nutrition, oral hygiene and quality of life – including longer hospital stays, social isolation and depression due to the inability to talk and eat.

Up to 40% of all patients treated with chemotherapy develop oral mucositis, and this percentage rises to approximately 90% for patients with head and neck cancers.

The economic consequences are also significant, with the incremental cost of oral mucositis exceeding $17,000 for patients with head and neck cancer.

However, a promising new treatment has emerged, with pharmaceutical company Jaguar Health recently obtaining the exclusive U.S. licence agreement for Venture Life’s oral mucositis prescription product Gelclair.

Gelclair is a clinically proven gel that provides pain relief and improves the ability of oral mucositis patients to eat, drink, swallow, speak and sleep, as well as reducing the need to use parenteral feeding or opiate analgesics.

In addition, unlike other products for oral mucositis, it is not a numbing agent and does not sting the mouth.

"We are very happy to have executed the in-license agreement for Gelclair - and thus to have initiated Jaguar's commercial footprint in our core focus area of cancer supportive care," said Lisa Conte, CEO and president of Jaguar said.

"Oral mucositis is among the most common, painful, and debilitating cancer treatment-related side effects. Gelclair is a protective gel with a mechanical action indicated for the management of pain and relief of pain by adhering to the mucosal surface of the mouth, soothing oral lesions of various etiologies, including oral mucositis/stomatitis.”

Gelchair works by adhering to the mucosal surface of the mouth, soothing oral lesions of various etiologies, including oral mucositis and stomatitis.

As Gelclair is already an FDA-approved prescription product, it can be commercialized without any clinical development costs for Jaguar, Conte added.

"We are expanding our footprint beyond HIV-related supportive care to include cancer-related supportive care, and the in-license of Gelclair is a first building block while we await the forthcoming results from our phase 3 trial of crofelemer for cancer therapy-related diarrhea.

“This is an indication we also refer to as chemotherapy-induced overactive bowel (CIOB) - which includes symptoms such as unpredictable and/or chronic debilitating diarrhea and GI urgency.

“We live in the age targeted therapies, and thanks to these amazing drugs cancer patients are living longer - 5, 10, 20 years. Targeted therapies often lead to more severe side effects, however, and patients want to live, not just survive."

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