Lung cancer: Impact of non-cancer medicines and antibiotics on anticancer treatments

Posted 27 Jan 2021

Flinders University researcher Dr Ashley Hopkins will use ‘big data’ to investigate the impact non-cancer medicines and antibiotics may have on the efficacy of anticancer treatments.

The Flinders University researcher has received a Flinders Foundation Health Seed Grant to analyse large amounts of data collected from patients with lung cancer during clinical trials and routine care.

Cancer patients on average use six non-cancer medicines at the same time as undergoing cancer treatment, and between 30 to 60 per cent use antibiotics or proton pump inhibitors.

“It is increasingly evident that altered gut microbiota impacts immune response, cancer prognosis and the efficacy of immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) and, in addition to antibiotics, many medicines positively or negatively affect the gut microbiota,” Dr Hopkins says.

“There is significant potential for non-cancer medicines which affect the gut microbiota to impact anticancer treatment efficacy.

“However, despite their frequency of use, only antibiotics have been studied to any extent and only with respect to their impact on ‘ICIs’, so it is not known whether antibiotics specifically reduce the efficacy of these inhibitors, or on all treatments.

“Undertaking large studies to specifically identify the impact of each gut microbiota-affecting medicine on each anticancer drug is not practical due to associated cost and exposure of patients to potentially harmful strategies, so instead we will utilise technological advancements and big data collected to generate evidence on the interaction between these medicines and specific anticancer agents in a timely, cost efficient, and ethical manner.

“We hope to identify gut microbiota affecting medicines which impact the efficacy of anticancer treatments and evaluate the impact of antibiotics and proton pump inhibitors on immunotherapies used to treat lung cancer.”

Research category: Cancer

Project title: Advancing the precision use of medicines in lung cancer treatment: Big data to inform the impacts of gut microbiota affecting medicines on clinical outcomes

Lead researcher: Dr Ashley Hopkins


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