Eureka Alert

Bottom Line: Young mice that received molecularly targeted therapies used to treat brain cancer in human patients sustained cognitive and behavioral deficits, but the deficits were largely reversible through environmental stimulation and physical exercise. The study suggests that pediatric brain cancer patients may experience similar side effects of molecularly targeted therapies, and may benefit from efforts to remediate any cognitive deficits.

Journal in Which the Study was Published: Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Author: Joseph Scafidi, DO, MS, a neonatal neurologist at Children’s National Health System, in Washington, D.C.

Background: “We’ve made significant progress against many childhood cancers, largely because of new, highly effective drugs,” Scafidi said. “Targeted therapies currently used to treat brain cancers work because they target specific pathways in the cancer. However, these pathways are critical to the development of the brain, and so we set out to evaluate the cellular and behavioral effects of these drugs on a normal, developing brain.

“Primary central nervous system tumors continue to be the leading type of solid tumors in the pediatric oncology population,” Scafidi continued. He said targeted therapies such as gefitinib (Iressa), sunitinib malate (Sutent), and rapamycin (Sirolimus) are now used


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