Effects of CNS Treatment on the Hippocampus
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common pediatric tumor among children and adolescents in the United States. Central nervous system (CNS) treatment has significantly contributed to the dramatic improvement in long-term disease-free survival of these patients by preventing disease relapse in the brain. Unfortunately, CNS treatment is frequently associated with long-term cognitive and academic problems. Despite problems associated with CNS treatment, little is known about the mechanisms of injury to the hippocampus and even less is known about changes in expression of genes involved in responses to brain injury and cognitive abilities. The purpose of this research is to investigate the effects of methotrexate on the hippocampus. Findings may be used to develop therapeutic strategies to protect the brain from injury, promote synaptic plasticity, and improve cognitive outcomes among the ever increasing numbers of children who are long-term survivors of ALL.
Dr. Ida “Ki” Moore, Professor and Biobehavioral Science Division Director at the University of Arizona College of Nursing, was honored on October 14, 2011 in Washington, DC with the 2011 Pathfinder Award from the Friends of the National Institute of Nursing Research. This prestigious national award is given to a nurse researcher whose work demonstrates a sustained program of scientific contributions in a field that advances understanding of human health and health care.
Moore has a long-standing externally funded program of research that focuses on the harmful effects of cancer treatment on the central nervous system (CNS). Dr. Moore’s team demonstrated that chemotherapy caused cell death in healthy cells. They are the first to study oxidative stress as a means of chemotherapy-induced injury to the brain in children with leukemia. With many years of continued funding from NIH and the Oncology Nursing Foundation, Moore developed and tested one of the first cognitive interventions that prevented cognitive and academic declines in children with leukemia.
Recent funding from Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation has provided support for her multidisciplinary collaborative team to better understand how cancer treatment can damage normal brain tissue. Moore and her team have found the hippocampus (responsible for short term and long term memory) to be particularly vulnerable to CNS treatment. The goal of these studies is to find new interventions that have the potential to protect healthy brain tissue from the damaging effects of CNS treatment.
"Dr. Ki Moore exemplifies this award in that she has been and continues to be a pathfinder for early identification of neurocognitive deficits in children treated for leukemia. She is the leading nursing expert in this area of expertise and a true scientist. I am honored to call her my colleague and friend," said Marilyn Hockenberry, professor of pediatrics in the Department of Hematology/Oncology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, a longtime colleague and friend of Moore's.