Riding For My Research

Posted 11 Jan 2021

When Flinders University cancer researcher Dr Ashley Hopkins jumped on his bike to join the 2019 SA Discovery Tour, he was overwhelmed by the support those riding alongside him gave to his research.

“The Tour de Cure family is amazing,” Dr Hopkins says.

“As a researcher that spends a lot of time at my computer, it was a humbling experience to see the dedication of the broader community towards cancer research and improving the lives of those with the disease.”

Dr Hopkins is using funds raised during the 2019 ride to carry out Machine Learning – a form of artificial intelligence – to help predict treatment outcomes from anticancer drugs used in patients with advanced or metastatic cancers.

It’s one of the world’s first research projects to analyse the CancerLinQ Database – a collection of information from over 1.7 million cancer patients – and it aims to enable patients and clinicians to make better decisions regarding commencing and continuing anticancer medicines used in the treatment of advanced lung and breast cancer.

“The therapeutic benefits and adverse effects of medicines can vary greatly between patients,”

“Modelling this big data is an opportunity to provide more realistic expectations of the benefits and harms from therapy and help alleviate stress associated with uncertainty, while also improving shared decision-making and empowering patients and clinicians to select the most appropriate medicine.”

Dr Hopkins is currently writing research papers on findings from this Tour de Cure funded research, which used this data to look at the effectiveness of the drug atezolizumab in patients with non-small cell lung carcinoma who use antacid medicines at the same time.

His work is also looking at personalised predictions of treatment outcomes in patients with advanced breast cancer according to their body mass index (BMI).

“This research is among the most detailed on the links between antacids and poor responses to immunotherapies, as well as exploring an obesity paradox between early and advanced breast cancer,” Dr Hopkins says.

Just a casual rider two years ago, the Tour de Cure experience has transformed Dr Hopkins into a keen cyclist who now regularly leads training rides, and he’s now looking forward to joining Tour de Cure once again on the SA Discovery Tour from 9-11 April.


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