Diabetes :: Diabetes drug shows promise for preventing brain injury from radiation therapy

Researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine are the first to report that in animal studies, a common diabetes drug prevents the memory and learning problems that cancer patients often experience after whole-brain radiation treatments.

“These findings offer the promise of improving the quality of life of these patients,” said Mike Robbins, Ph.D., senior researcher. “The drug is already prescribed for diabetes and we know the doses that patients can safely take.”

Whole-brain radiation is widely used to treat recurrent brain tumors as well as to prevent breast cancer, lung cancer and malignant melanoma from spreading to the brain. About 200,000 people receive the treatment annually, and beginning about a year later, up to one-half develop progressive cognitive impairments that can affect memory, language and abstract reasoning.

In the current issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology – Biology ?Physics, Robbins and colleagues report that rats receiving the diabetes drug piolitazone (sold under the trade name Actos?) before, during and after radiation treatments did not experience cognitive impairment.

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