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November 29, 2016

Research to make chemo less harsh yet more effective

Chemotherapy is part of the treatment plan for most cancer patients. Almost all breast cancer patients undergo chemo and for some it is the only treatment available.

The challenge with chemotherapy is that it is cannot distinguish the bad cells from the good cells. It kills all cells which grow and divide more rapidly than other types of cells, including some healthy cells that causes side effect like nausea, hair loss, pain, fatigue and much more.
To make chemotherapy treatment bearable for patients the doses are often reduced. This scales down the side effects, but it also reduces treatment efficiency.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation, which is 100 percent community funded, has invested in an innovative research project to investigate how to make chemotherapy less toxic but still effective for the women and men who are going through treatment.

NBCF-funded researcher Dr Pegah VaraminiIn this study, Dr Pegah Varamini aims to attach a ‘carrier’ to the active molecule in chemotherapy which will help it to identify the difference between healthy cells and cancer cells and only release the drug inside the cancerous tumour cells.

This method should minimise the side-effects and allow the dosage to be increased until the tumour is completely destroyed, making the treatment more successful and avoiding damage to healthy cells. By ensuring the treatment only targets cancer cells, there is less likelihood that the cancer will survive, grow and spread.

This new and innovative way of delivering treatment will bring hope to the patients who suffer from all types of breast cancer but also the challenging types of breast cancer such as triple negative, for which survival is poorer because there are limited treatment options.

The only way to improve how breast cancer is managed and treated is through funding innovative and targeted research projects like this.