Public Release: 

Medication protects fertility and defense system during chemotherapy

New study holds hope for avoiding serious side effects of cancer treatment

LA BioMed

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IMAGE: Christina Wang, M.D., is the corresponding author for a study by LA BioMed and USC researchers, which found a medication that holds hope for protecting fertility and the body's defense... view more

Credit: LA BioMed

LOS ANGELES - While targeted cancer treatments have reduced side effects and improved efficacy, chemotherapy remains the backbone of combination therapies for many forms of cancer. Unfortunately, cancer patients may suffer from several side effects from chemotherapy, including infertility and a weakened defense system that makes them susceptible to life-threatening infections.

A study recently published by the journal, Endocrinology Today, holds hope for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy to avoid two of the serious side effects and to stop cancer's growth.

Researchers at Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute (LA BioMed) and the University of Southern California found the potent humanin analogue (HNG) protected male germ cells, which are essential to fertility, and white blood cells, which are the soldiers in the body's defense system, in cancer research models undergoing chemotherapy. The researchers also reported that HNG reduced metastases, or the spread of cancer cells to other organs in the body.

"Our study suggested that including HNG in chemotherapy may help cancer patients avoid infertility and a weakened defense system against infection while also increasing the effectiveness of the chemotherapy," said Christina Wang, MD, an LA BioMed researcher and corresponding author of the study. "More research is needed, and we are working diligently to fully document and understand the protective nature of HNG against the side effects of chemotherapy."

Recent advances in the understanding of cancer cell biology and the use of multiple types of treatments have led to improved cancer survival. But to improve the quality of life in cancer survivors, the researchers said there is an increasing need to protect the healthy cells from the toxic effects of chemotherapy without disrupting the treatment's effectiveness in reducing or eliminating cancer cells.

"Based on our findings, we also believe that HNG could protect other vital cells, including those in the heart and brain, which may be damaged by chemotherapy regimens," Dr. Wang said. "We will be conducting additional studies to determine how HNG can help guard against some of the most serious side effects of chemotherapy."

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Research funding provided by UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute Grant UL1TR000124 (to LA BioMed and Harbor-UCLA Medical Center) and National Institutes of Health Grants R01AG034430, R01GM090311 and R01ES020812. Other researchers participating in the study from LA BioMed and Harbor-UCLA Medical Center were: YanHe Lue, Ronald Swerdloff, Samuel French, Vince Atienza, Victor Canela, Kevin W. Bruhn, Brian Stone and Yue Jia. USC researchers participating in the study were: Junxiang Wan, Jialin Xiao and Pinchas Cohen.

About LA BioMed

Founded in 1952, LA BioMed is one of the country's leading nonprofit independent biomedical research institutes. It has approximately 100 principal researchers conducting studies into improved diagnostics and treatments for cancer, inherited diseases, infectious diseases, illnesses caused by environmental factors and more. It also educates young scientists and provides community services, including prenatal counseling and childhood nutrition programs. LA BioMed is academically affiliated with the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and located on the campus of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. For more information, please visit http://www.LABioMed.org

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