UCI Research Team Receives Planning Grant Award to Advance the Translational Science in Cancer-Related Cognitive Impairment

From left to right: Alexandre Chan, Weian Zhao, Manjal Acharya, Xiangmin Xu

A collaborative research team from the UCI School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences and the UCI School of Medicine are one of three teams selected to receive a Planning Grant Award in Translation Science from the UCI Institute for Clinical and Translational Science.

These projects address questions of translational science, which, as defined by the National Institutes of Health National Center for Advancing Translational Science (NCATS), are “projects that focus on the common causes of inefficiency and failure in translational research projects.”

The UCI research team includes UCI School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences’ Alexandre Chan, chair and professor of clinical pharmacy and Weian Zhao, professor of pharmaceutical sciences, and the UCI School of Medicine’s Manjal Acharya, associate professor of anatomy & neurobiology and Xiangmin Xu, professor of anatomy and neurobiology.

Their project, “Interdisciplinary and translational research in cancer-related cognitive impairment,” will focus on how the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that promotes the survival of nerve cells, prevents neural cell death (neuroprotection) in chemotherapy, radiation, and immunotherapy.

“This research will enhance our understanding of how BDNF may play a role in cancer-related cognitive impairment,” says Chan. “Our team recently published a systematic review in Critical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology, and we have observed a positive association between BDNF and cognitive function, suggesting that BDNF is a monitoring biomarker that is a viable target for drugs for cancer-related cognitive impairment.”

“We hope to further establish the role of BDNF to mitigate cancer-related cognitive impairment with our proposed studies,” says Zhao. “Our planned proposal is translational in nature. NCATS’ focus is to advance the science of translation, which is the process of turning observations into interventions to improve health.” The selected projects will be submitted as part of the Institute for Clinical and Translational Science suite of applications to the National Institutes of Health National Center for Advancing Translational Science in May of 2023.

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