Michael Jameson

We’re looking for new uses for everyday medicines to ease troublesome side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy has the potential to save lives and dollars.

Cancer Research Trust NZ is funding a clinical trial funded after laboratory research showed that taking a heartburn medicine could counter complications from chemotherapy.

Led by Dr Navin Wewala from Palmerston North Hospital, whom I’m mentoring, and a team of molecular geneticists and researchers, we’re seeking to confirm how the cheap antacid drug, cimetidine, can reduce the side effects of a particularly toxic chemotherapy drug, cisplatin, without compromising its positive effects on tumours.

Understanding how cisplatin moves into normal tissues and finding how we can protect patients from the side effects with an over the counter drug that is an oldie but still a goodie is a huge opportunity to deliver public good health outcomes.

We hope that the findings from our trial, supported by this $76,000 grant from Cancer Research Trust New Zealand, will show positive effects from taking a $10 a week course of cimetidine pills to mitigate some of the debilitating side effects of cisplatin chemo without interfering with the cancer-killing effects.

There’s a real benefit in helping children get over their cancer without being burdened by the learning difficulties and impact on their quality of life of having to cope with the after effects of hearing loss for instance, and we are using that foundational research to make new advances.

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