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Toxins may lurk in elderly cancer patients

July 2005

by Jacquelyn Spruce

The body’s ability to efficiently process anti-cancer drugs decreases as it ages, Health Science Center researcher Muralidhar Beeram, M.D., hypothesizes. Due to a decline in kidney and liver functions, harmful toxins might remain in elderly patients receiving cancer treatment. The kidney and the liver are the body’s primary toxin-eliminating organs.

Dr. Beeram is the recipient of the 2005 Merck/AFAR (American Federation for Aging Research) Junior Investigator Award in Geriatric Clinical Pharmacology. With the two-year grant that accompanied his award, Dr. Beeram can test his hypothesis.

"I am attempting to distinguish any clinically significant relationships between aging and the clearance of cancer drugs," Dr. Beeram explains. "Little data has been published concerning this subject in relation to elderly patients."

Before Food and Drug Administration approval, anti-cancer drugs are often tested in cancer patients who have good organ function, Dr. Beeram says. However, because of the aging process, the recommended dose of anticancer drugs may vary for senior citizens. Dr. Beeram’s research concerning pharmacokinetics – the way drugs are absorbed and eliminated by the body – is essential for today’s aging population.


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