Potential remedy for the 'mental fog' in cancer patients

Sep 04, 2008

Cancer patients have complained for years about the mental fog known as chemobrain. Now in animal studies at West Virginia University (WVU), researchers have discovered that injections of N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), an antioxidant, can prevent the memory loss that breast cancer chemotherapy drugs sometimes induce. The WVU researchers' study has just been published in the September issue of the Springer journal Metabolic Brain Disease.

Rats were given the commonly used chemotherapy drugs adriamycin and cyclophosphamide. When on the drugs, rats who were trained to prefer a light room to a dark room forgot their training.

"When animals are treated with chemotherapy drugs, they lose memory," said Gregory Konat, Ph.D., professor of neurobiology and anatomy at WVU. "When we add NAC during treatment, they don't lose memory."

Chosen for its antioxidant properties, NAC is a modified form of the dietary amino acid cysteine.

Jame Abraham, M.D., director of the Comprehensive Breast Cancer Program at WVU's Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, said as "chemobrain" entered the national lexicon, many patients expressed frustration about doctors not taking the complaints seriously.

"In the past, there was a lot of ignorance among doctors about chemo-induced cognitive problems," Dr. Abraham said. "In some patients, problems can persist for up to two years."

The WVU authors say as many as 40 percent of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy complain of symptoms such as severe memory and attention deficits. Previously, scientists suspected the cancer, rather than chemo drugs, might be the cause.

Earlier this year, Dr. Abraham's team of researchers used MRI scans to document the extent of changes to the brain in women who received chemotherapy for breast cancer. Now the connection between drugs and memory loss is clear, and a potential remedy is suggested as well.

"At this point, we have no evidence to say that NAC is safe in patients who are getting chemotherapy," Abraham said. "We need more studies to confirm the role of NAC in patients."

Source: Springer

Explore further: Second western Minnesota turkey farm hit by bird flu outbreak

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Gold nanoparticles for targeted cancer treatment

Mar 26, 2015

The use of tiny drug-loaded nanocarriers for the safe, targeted delivery of drugs to designated parts of the body has received much press in recent years. Human trials of nanocarriers targeting pancreatic ...

Nano packages for anti-cancer drug delivery

Mar 18, 2015

Cancer stem cells are resistant to chemotherapy and consequently tend to remain in the body even after a course of treatment has finished, where they can often trigger cancer recurrence or metastasis. A new ...

Molecular ruler sets bacterial needle length

Mar 16, 2015

When a salmonella bacterium attacks a cell, it uses a nanoscopic needle to inject it with proteins to aid the infection. If the needle is too short, the cell won't be infected. Too long, and the needle breaks. ...

Innovative light therapy reaches deep tumors

Mar 09, 2015

Light long has been used to treat cancer. But phototherapy is only effective where light easily can reach, limiting its use to cancers of the skin and in areas accessible with an endoscope, such as the gastrointestinal ...

Recommended for you

Nocturnal GERD tied to non-infectious rhinitis

23 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Nocturnal gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) appears to be a risk factor for non-infectious rhinitis (NIR), according to a study published online March 24 in Allergy.

COPD takes big toll on employment, mobility in US

Mar 27, 2015

(HealthDay)—The respiratory illness known as COPD takes a toll on mobility and employment, with a new report finding that nearly one-quarter of Americans with the condition are unable to work.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.