Researchers Look For Alternative Treatment To Fight 'Chemo Brain' For Cancer Patients

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Apr 19, 2017 05:23 AM EDT

Because of their unhealthy lifestyles such as poor diet and limited exercise, millenials are more likely to be at risk of having color or bowel cancer. (Photo : Justin Sullivan/Getty Images for UCSF Cancer Center)

Chemotherapy is broadly accepted as the most common treatment available for cancer. But the side effects of chemotherapy have often been overshadowed by the importance associated with the treatment itself. The overarching use of chemotherapy is a most sought treatment for cancer patients and good measures, but the cognitive dysfunction associated with the therapy is making researchers' think of other alternatives.

 According to Medical News Today, the term "chemo brain" is associated with the cognitive dysfunction in chemotherapy.

It includes a range of side effects, such as visual and verbal memory loss, trouble in concentration, difficulty in processing information, attention deficit and an overall confusion in focusing on work. With The National Cancer Institute estimating the current existence of 15.5 million cancer survivor in the United States; one in three of them who have gone through chemotherapy treatment is likely to report of cognitive impairment. An alternative to the treatment is, therefore, a major concern for scientists.

Research on rodents has revealed that common chemotherapy drug like 5-Fluorouracil has the strength to damage myelin which is fat and protein based protective layer around the brain cells. This further can cause neurodegenerative deficits in hippocampus part of the brain which is the area providing support to learning and memory retention. These results are in tune with a previous result suggesting chemotherapy causes undesirable effects on Dopamine, a major neurotransmitter and on Serotonin that controls mood and sleep quality, reported Science Daily.

Moreover, chemotherapy treatment increases levels of a chemical compound hydrogen peroxide in the brain, the result of which was evident in the lab rats. Hydrogen peroxide is a reactive oxygen species (ROS) and has a damaging effect on cognitive function. A chemical compound KU-32 was used to override the negative impact of hydrogen peroxide on the test rodents and preliminary neurochemical data suggest that the compound was successful in decreasing hydrogen peroxide production.

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