UAMS Professor Awarded $1.86M Grant to Help Cancer Patients

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A professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences has received a five-year grant of more than $1.86 million from the National Cancer Institute for research aimed at reducing long-term neurological damage caused by a common cancer treatment regimen.

Dr. Fen Xia, chair of the UAMS Department of Radiation Oncology, received the grant for her project titled “The Novel Role of Sirtuin 2 in Regulation of Transcription-Associated DNA Damage Repair.” 

“Platinum-based chemotherapy is commonly used alongside radiation therapy to treat several types of cancer. However, this treatment combination can cause permanent neurological damage, which presents a daunting challenge when treating cancer patients,” she said in a news release. 

Nerve damage caused by radiation and/or chemotherapy can include irreversible weakness, and numbness and pain in the hands and feet.

Xia’s research examines possible ways to alleviate or prevent this damage from occurring, while maintaining the therapy’s effectiveness and improving the patients’ quality of life.

Her preliminary study discovered a connection between the function of the protein Sirtuin 2 with repair of DNA damage caused by radiation and/or platinum-based chemotherapy.

Xia expects the study to lay a foundation for future research investigating novel strategies to alleviate and/or prevent neurotoxicity in cancer patients who need radiation and chemotherapy.