Chemotherapy has long been thought to be the most effective way to treat any form of cancer, however, new evidence has revealed a naturally occurring hormone that could better the chances of survival.
For lung cancer patients in particular, chemotherapy can sometimes do more harm than good, as a drug called cisplatin often leads to serious side effects such as kidney damage.
But hope is on the way, with Sydney and Melbourne researchers identifying a way to block the protein activin that is the cause of all the problems, Scimex reports.
The Garvan Institute for Medical Research (Sydney), Hudson Institute of Medical Research (Melbourne) and the biotechnology company Paranta Biosciences Limited together discovered the naturally occurring hormone follistatin, publishing the study in the Science Translational Medicine journal.
Professor Neil Watkins and his team tested the hormone on mice and found that treatment of follistatin in combination with platinum chemotherapy actually led to lung tumours shrinking in size and preventing any sign of kidney damage.
“In chemotherapy-resistant tumours in mice, activin gets switched on in response to the damage caused by chemotherapy,” Watkins explained.
“Cancer cells can then enlist activin to protect themselves. At the same time, when activin is switched on, it promotes kidney injury.
“Because follistatin is a hormone already found in the human body, there is much less potential for toxicity than with other drugs used to reduce chemo resistance.”
Proud of the discovery they made Dr Kieren Marini said the research has the potential to not only increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy but also provide patients with a longer, happier life.
“Discoveries like this one – a combination therapy that actually reduces damage while improving effectiveness of chemotherapy – are exceedingly rare in cancer research,” the Hudson Institute doctor explained.
“Many of us have heard about the devastating side effects of chemotherapy in cancer patients. Our discovery has the potential to not only increase the effectiveness of platinum chemotherapy, but also give patients a better quality of life by preventing kidney damage.”
This discovery is one of many in recent years to help those suffering with lung cancer, or even those who have the potential to develop the disease.
Earlier this year the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer in France discovered how a simple blood test could potentially detect cancer before it rears its ugly head.