Australian scientists are to embark on a major project to find ways of preventing bone loss caused by breast cancer chemotherapy.
Led by Professor Cory Xian from the University of South Australia's Sansom Institute for Health Research, the research project will begin early next year after it was awarded $521,706 in funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council's 2010 Project Grants Scheme.
Prof Xian and co-investigators Prof Peter Howe and Prof Ross McKinnon and associate investigators Prof Tony Ferrante, Prof Dorothy Keefe and Prof Howard Morris will study the mechanisms and prevention for bone loss caused by combination cytotoxic chemotherapy, which is the current optimal treatment for breast cancer in premenopausal women.
"This chemotherapy used to treat breast cancer in premenopausal women has increasingly become known to cause bone loss in cancer patients and survivors due to its intensified use and improved patient survival," Prof Xian says.
"This project will extend our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the severe bone loss caused by this chemotherapy and will initiate the development of a simple, safe, effective preventative treatment using bioactive nutrients."
Prof Xian, who leads The Bone Growth and Repair Research Group, says there is currently no cost effective and safe therapy for chemo bone damage. Bioactive nutrients being explored in the study are fish oil omega-3 fatty acids and plant extract resveratrol.
"We are proposing that supplementation with omega-3 oil and resveratrol, alone or in combination, during chemotherapy will prevent bone loss," he says.
"We ultimately hope this research will improve the quality of life for thousands of women who undergo chemotherapy for breast cancer."
Prof Xian's project was one of four UniSA projects awarded funding in the 2010 NHMRC Project Grants.