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Reducing the damage done by chemotherapy

Dec 10, 2014 02:00PM ● Published by Cate Reynolds

Preventing cardiotoxicity (damage to the heart muscle) in patients receiving chemotherapy is a crucial step in the battle against cancer. Cardiotoxicity can occur acutely or up to 30 years after chemotherapy and is the second most common cause of death in cancer patients. Risk increases with more chemotherapy or when radiation is also given.

Austrian researchers may have come up with a way to reduce heart damage by encapsulation of cancer drugs. The studies show that a new technology which wraps chemotherapy drugs in a fatty cover (called a liposome) reduces heart damage. (This isn’t coated aspirin—it’s done on a molecular level and can include liquid medications.) More of the drug reaches the cancer cells because there is less degradation and there are fewer side effects on healthy cells because the fat cover acts as a barrier. The drug stays in the bloodstream longer, allowing higher cumulative doses to be given. So far experimentation has been limited to pigs, but the results look promising.

--Sarah Hagerty
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