Humanin analogue (HNG) protects both male germ cells, essential to fertility, and white blood cells, the soldiers in the body’s defense system, during chemotherapy, according to findings in cancer research models. In addition, HNG was reported to reduce metastases. These findings, based on research conducted in mice, were reported in Endocrinology Today (doi:10.1210/en.2015-1542).

The findings offer hope for patients with cancer who undergo chemotherapy that both infertility and a weakened defense system, two serious adverse effects of chemotherapy, can be avoided.

“Our study suggested that including HNG in chemotherapy may help cancer patients avoid infertility and a weakened defense system against infection while also increasing the effectiveness of the chemotherapy,” said Christina Wang, MD, a researcher at Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute (LA BioMed) and corresponding author of the study. More research is needed, and Wang and colleagues are working to fully document and understand the protective nature of HNG against adverse effects of chemotherapy.

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Advances in the understanding of cancer cell biology and the use of various treatments has improved cancer survival. But to improve quality of life for cancer survivors, the healthy cells need to be protected from the toxic effects of chemotherapy without disrupting the treatment’s effectiveness in reducing or eliminating cancer cells.

“Based on our findings, we also believe that HNG could protect other vital cells, including those in the heart and brain, which may be damaged by chemotherapy regimens,” Wang said. “We will be conducting additional studies to determine how HNG can help guard against some of the most serious side effects of chemotherapy.”