Predicting sepsis and preventing death in cancer patients.

Posted 19 Jan 2021

Sepsis and septic shock are major causes of preventable death in cancer patients. Now Professor Geraint Rogers has received a Flinders Foundation Health Seed Grant to predict these potentially fatal infections, so doctors can intervene earlier and prevent it from occurring.

Professor Rogers, a Flinders University researcher based at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), will study the faecal microbiome in those receiving myelosuppressive chemotherapy for non-blood cancer types to identify markers of increased sepsis risk.

“By identifying such markers, our research will help to identify the early onset of sepsis, and enable better targeting of antimicrobial therapy,” Professor Rogers explains.

“The ability to predict these potentially fatal events and intervene early would be transformative.”

Nearly one in five patients receiving myelosuppressive chemotherapy experience febrile neutropenia episodes and are at high risk of sepsis and septic shock. Sadly, mortality rates of this group who go on to develop septic shock are a very high 38 per cent.

“Sepsis is particularly likely to occur during periods of chemotherapy treatment when immune defences are impaired through myelosuppression, and gut barrier integrity is compromised allowing bacterial translocation to occur,” Professor Rogers says.

“By identifying microbiological signatures in clinical samples, those patients at greatest risk of severe infectious complications can be identified, and interventions, including antibiotic prophylaxis, can be provided in a precision manner.”

Research category: Cancer

Project title: Predicting severe systemic infections in patients receiving myelosuppressive chemotherapy: a basis for targeted intervention

Lead researcher: Professor Geraint Rogers


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