Guang Yue, PhD, director of Human Performance and Engineering Research at Kessler Foundation, has been awarded a grant by the National Institutes of Health to study the effects of chemotherapy on brain structure, neurophysiology, and psychomotor behavior. The 2-year grant totals $366,053 (1R21CA165943-01A1)
Adjuvant chemotherapy is often prescribed to reduce risk of cancer relapse. Many patients, however, experience cognitive, psychomotor, and other functional impairments, according to Dr. Yue. Some symptoms may persist for years and can adversely affect quality of life. Despite numerous studies, the mechanisms underlying these symptoms remain elusive. Recent imaging studies suggest direct neurotoxic effects on the brain, in particular on white matter. However, no longitudinal studies have examined the effects of chemotherapy on white matter integrity in humans. Also lacking are fundamental studies that correlate a given white matter component with its corresponding neurophysiological function and behavior.
Dr. Yue's longitudinal study will examine the effects of chemotherapy on the structure of the corpus callosum and corticospinal tract and corresponding neuropsychological function and behavior. "We anticipate that this research will yield significant information regarding structural and physiological causes of the neurological side effects of chemotherapy," said Dr. Yue. "This will help us devise better ways to effectively manage symptoms. In addition, demonstrating the detrimental consequences of chemotherapeutic agents on the central nervous system may encourage the development of safer antineoplastic drugs."