Aussie scientists unlock potential treatment for "chemobrain"

SYDNEY, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- "Chemobrain" is a condition which affects up to 60 percent of women receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer -- leaving them with memory, learning and concentration problems.

However, a study released on Friday suggests that "chemobrain" is not the result of chemotherapy and may in fact be caused by the tumour itself -- offering new potential for treatment.

Study author, Dr. Adam Walker from Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) and the University of New South Wales (UNSW), observed that symptoms associated with chemobrain were actually occurring prior to treatment.

"This suggests cancer alone may be sufficient to induce cognitive impairment," Walker said.

Walker used this insight to conduct a study on mice which targeted tumour-to-brain communication, and found that breast cancer cells were releasing markers which caused inflammation in the brain.

By treating this with low doses of anti-inflammatories, such as aspirin, Walker was able to completely stop memory loss being caused by the tumour, without affecting other aspects of the disease.

In the past, "interventions to treat cancer-induced cognitive impairment have focused on behavioural therapies such as brain training, which don't tap into the biological processes of tumour-to-brain communication," Walker said.

"This is the first study to show that we can potentially disrupt that communication using anti-inflammatory agents such as aspirin to reduce the inflammation that causes cognitive impairment."

NeuRA chief executive Peter Schofield, hopes that improving the experience of cancer treatment, patients would no longer have to make difficult compromises.

"Our ultimate goal is to eradicate the negative side effects of cancer treatment, so that quality versus quantity of life decisions no longer need to be made," Schofield said.

There are currently 68,824 Australians living with breast cancer.

[ Editor: WPY ]


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