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Mental fog with tamoxifen is real; URMC finds possible antidote
Date:9/17/2013

A team from the University of Rochester Medical Center has shown scientifically what many women report anecdotally: that the breast cancer drug tamoxifen is toxic to cells of the brain and central nervous system, producing mental fogginess similar to "chemo brain."

However, in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers also report they've discovered an existing drug compound that appears to counteract or rescue brain cells from the adverse effects of the breast cancer drug.

Corresponding author Mark Noble, Ph.D., professor of Biomedical Genetics and director of the UR Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Institute, said it's exciting to potentially be able to prevent a toxic reaction to one of the oldest and most widely used breast cancer medications on the market. Although tamoxifen is relatively benign compared to most cancer treatments, it nonetheless produces troubling side effects in a subset of the large number of people who take it.

By studying tamoxifen's impact on central nervous system cell populations and then screening a library of 1,040 compounds already in clinical use or clinical trials, his team identified a substance known as AZD6244, and showed that it essentially eliminated tamoxifen-induced killing of brain cells in mice.

"As far as I know, no one else has discovered an agent that singles out and protects brain and central nervous system cells while also not protecting cancer cells," Noble said. "This creates a whole new paradigm; it's where we need to go."

The research is the result of two separate but related projects from Noble's lab. One investigates the science underlying a condition known as "chemo brain," and another is looking at how to exploit tamoxifen's attributes for use in other types of cancer besides early-stage, less-aggressive breast cancer. (The drug is a type of hormonal therapy, which works by stopping the growth of estrogen-sensitive tumors.)

In the Journal of Neur
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Contact: Leslie Orr
Leslie_Orr@urmc.rochester.edu
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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