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"Chemo brain," the problems with thinking and memory tied to chemotherapy, can be a frustrating and even debilitating side effect of cancer treatment. Yet, exactly what causes the condition is unclear.
Now, a new animal study, published today (Dec. 6) in the journal Cell, provides insight into how certain chemotherapy drugs affect brain cells. The study suggests that a commonly used chemotherapy drug, called methotrexate, causes problems in the brain's "helper cells."
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However, because the study was conducted in mice, much more research is needed to see if the treatment could help people receiving chemotherapy.
Moment - Study - Author - Michelle - Monje
Still, "it's an exciting moment," study senior author Michelle Monje, an associate professor of neurology and neurological sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine, said in a statement. "If we understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms that contribute to cognitive dysfunction after cancer therapy, that will help us develop strategies for effective treatment."
Chemo brain includes symptoms such as difficulty concentrating, a feeling of "mental fogginess," memory problems, trouble with multitasking and taking longer than usual to complete routine tasks, according to the Mayo Clinic. Symptoms can linger for months or even years after a patient's final cancer treatment and may prevent some cancer survivors from returning to work.
Quality - Life - Lead - Study - Author
"It's wonderful that they're alive, but their quality of life is really suffering," lead study author Erin Gibson, a research scientist at Stanford, said in the statement. "If we can do anything to improve that, there is a huge population that could benefit."
The new study focused on how chemotherapy affects the brain's "helper cells," called glial cells, which provide support for the brain's neurons. The neurons are...
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