We know brain plays a big role in our life. With a healthy brain, we are what we are, we act as we act and love as we love. But for children who suffer from brain tumor, the treatment of radiotherapy can lead to severe side effects, including the deficiencies in memory and learning.
Childhood brain tumor
A brain tumor is a mass or growth of abnormal cells in the brain. One common treatment option is radiotherapy, which uses high-energy beams like X-rays to kill tumor cells. This treatment is rather effective, as 4 out of 5 children can survive.
However, though children with brain tumor can be treated by radiation, they are lively to live with its negative impacts on mood, social skills and cognitive processes, including thought, judgment, emotions and decision making.
"Virtually all children who have received radiation treatment for a brain tumor develop more or less serious cognitive problems. This can cause difficulties learning or socializing and even holding down a job later in life,” said professor Klas Blomgren.
In other words, the current treatment option deals with brain tumor at a high cost. A much safer option should be developed as soon as possible.
Lithium may reverse radiation damage
Previous studies have shown that lithium has a protective effect on nerve cells, and it has already been used in drugs for patients with bipolar disorder.
In order to test the effect of lithium on the brain with radiation damage, the researchers set up a mice model and found that lithium can activate two proteins called Tppp and GAD65. These two molecules can enhance the proliferation of cells and thus stimulate new neurons. Besides, lithium can even reverse the damage long after it has occurred.
Although scientists are just beginning to understand lithium's effects on curing radiation damage, the study results show a lot of potentials. They are now planning to conduct clinical trials on humans. Let’s hope the first drug treatment can soon be produced to treat the brain damage caused by radiation.