According to a story from medicalxpress.com, a recent study suggests that cognitive deficits that can occur as side effects of targeted brain cancer drugs could be successfully reversed with therapy. In the study, mice with brain cancer sustained significant behavior and cognition deficits after they were treated with a molecularly targeted drug. However, the problems appeared to eventually resolve on their own as the mice were mentally stimulated with physical exercise in their own environment.
In the past few years, advancements have been made in treating brain cancers in children as steadily more effective drugs have been approved for the public market. When it comes to targeted therapies, these types of drugs are effective because they exploit a specific molecular pathway in the cancer. However, these pathways are also essential for the development of the brain. As a result, scientists expected them to have some affect on the brains of children. To learn more about childhood brain cancer, click here.
Unfortunately, the effects of these drugs on children had not previously been tested, as clinical trials for many of the most recent targeted therapies of only use adult patients. The study tested the drug effects on mice of different age groups that corresponded roughly with childhood, adolescence, and adulthood in humans. Generally, the youngest mice in the study were the most severely affected by the drug and experienced deficiencies to behavior and cognition; meanwhile, the adult group had almost no changes in mental performance.
Furthermore, the study also found that after two weeks of living in an ‘enriched environment’ that was full of toys and activities, the mice had already begun to see improvements to their symptoms. However, the study is still not definitive because it was performed with mice and not human patients. Another factor is that the test did not take into consideration possible interactions with other drugs. The mice in the study were exclusively treated with the targeted therapy, but for most patients, targeted therapies would only be one of several different medications that they may be taking at once.
Ultimately, the study suggests that targeted therapies may be safer for children than previously thought, but much more research and testing must be done before this can be fully confirmed.