Safeguarding fragile bones during chemotherapy

Professor Cory XianThe Bone Growth and Repair Research Lab is striving to prevent bone damage and bone growth defects for child cancer patients, a common side effect of intensive chemotherapy.

This research has revealed important processes within cells that contribute to bone damage during chemotherapy. Now the team is seeking the best natural supplements to prevent bone and bone marrow injury during treatment.

"Despite cancer treatments improving, and survival rates increasing, there are still no therapies to protect children's bones during cancer treatment," says Professor Cory Xian, Head of the Bone Growth and Repair Research Lab.

"Children's bones are quite different to adults because they are still going through critical stages of development. Their bones can be significantly weakened or their growth impaired from the damage caused by cancer treatments.

"Our research will reduce the painful and life limiting side effects children can experience after treatment for cancer."

Professor Cory Xian, a global leader in bone research.

"Alarmingly we are seeing an increase in childhood cancer survivors with painful bone problems including multiple fractures, bone pain and early osteoporosis, that are linked to long-term damage from chemotherapy. Preventive therapies are urgently needed."

Finding the right therapy is a complex puzzle. With the growing interest and affordability of alternative treatments, the research team is exploring supplements that could be used alongside chemotherapy, including fish oil, genistein and resveratrol. They are now working to understand the right dose and whether their use causes any adverse reactions when taken with chemotherapy.

"We have also found that an extract from a species of the yam plant increases the anti-cancer effect of certain chemotherapies while also improving the body's ability to protect healthy tissue from the damaging effects of chemo.

"Our research will help provide the information we need to translate protective natural therapies into a clinical setting so that children with cancer can go on to live pain and symptom free lives."