Stopping heart damage caused by cancer drugs

Beshay ZordokyWhile advanced therapies have improved cancer survival rates, many of these medications can lead to cardiovascular disease later in life.

With Masonic support, Beshay Zordoky, MS.c., Ph.D., part of the U’s experimental and clinical pharmacology faculty, is working to stop the heart toxicity caused by these therapies.  

Zordoky is especially interested in curbing the adverse effects of a drug called Adriamycin, commonly used to treat childhood and breast cancers. His team has developed a mouse model that mirrors Adriamycin-induced cardiotoxicity and is using it to study issues such as:  

  • The impact of psychosocial stress in Adriamycin-induced heart damage: Zordoky’s team has found that stress accelerates Adriamycin-induced premature aging, inflammation, and fibrosis leading to heart damage. They are now testing new therapeutic approaches to prevent this damage.
  • The role of biological sex in Adriamycin-induced toxicity: Zordoky and his colleagues have shown that female mice are more protected against Adriamycin-induced toxicity than male mice. They hope to discover why female mice are protected, so that they can design effective therapies to protect both male and female cancer patients against the drug’s toxic effects.
  • The role of sex hormones in Adriamycin-induced toxicity: Sex hormones play an important role in maintaining cardiovascular health, but cancer treatments can cause gonadal dysfunction. Zordoky and his team believe that when sex hormones are perturbed by cancer treatment, it adversely affects cardiovascular function, especially when combined with a toxic drug like Adriamycin. They will soon explore the role of sex hormone supplementation in preventing the drug’s toxicity.

“Masonic support has enabled me to dedicate most of my time to pursuing this line of research. It has also provided the necessary funding to generate key preliminary data that supported my recent NIH grant applications.”

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