TAMPA - A first of its kind clinical trial is about to get underway in Tampa. Researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center are hoping to prove an extract from blueberries can help cancer patients who suffer from chemo brain.
Vicki Smith is in the middle of a tough battle with breast cancer. When it comes to chemotherapy, she says, "It makes me sick. It makes me very sick."
The chemo also robs her of her ability to think like she used to.
"I forget things. Oh, do I forget things. And I repeat things," Smith said.
Moffitt researchers have done previous studies on the effects chemotherapy has on the brain.
Nagi Kumar is The Director of Cancer Chemo Prevention at the Moffitt Cancer Center.
"There is a loss of memory. There is a loss of speed of functioning, speed of response."
And their research showed these symptoms can last more than ten years. Now Nagi Kumar is opening anew study to see if an extract from blueberries can help repair the damage done by "chemo brain".
Participants would have an MRI of the brain taken in the beginning and take a series of tests on cognitive ability.
Then they'd take two of these capsules in the morning and two at night.
It's a natural concoction that Moffitt researchers came up with themselves.
"We thought of hitting it with the combination of a plant based antioxidant as well as an anti-inflammatory which is the blueberries and the anti-inflammatory in the fish oils. In combination we termed it Cognutrin. If we introduce this agent right after chemotherapy we might reverse the damage that has occurred," Kumar said.
Three months later, participants will take the series of tests again.
"This has never been done in the world. We are the first group doing this," Kumar said.
Would Vicki enroll after finishing her chemotherapy? "I think I would. Anything to help my memory," she said.
They are starting to enroll participants November 1.
If you'd like info on the trial, call (813) 745-6885.
The trial results should be available in about a year.