Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Scientists' Breakthrough in 'Personal Cancer Treatment' DRUG MONITORING SERVICE DEVELOPED IN NORTH EAST TRANSFORMS TREATMENT

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Scientists' Breakthrough in 'Personal Cancer Treatment' DRUG MONITORING SERVICE DEVELOPED IN NORTH EAST TRANSFORMS TREATMENT

Article excerpt

Byline: KATIE DICKINSON Reporter katie.dickinson@reachplccom @KATIEJDICKINSON

CHILD cancer patients from all over the country will be able to have personalised treatment for the first time after a breakthrough by Newcastle scientists.

A therapeutic drug monitoring service, developed by Newcastle University experts, allows clinicians to get vital information about how much chemotherapy individual young patients should receive.

It has been running at the Great North Children's Hospital for the past few years, but now the National Institute for Health Research has provided funding to Newcastle University to run a three year study to expand the service nationally.

Youngsters diagnosed with cancer, including infants in the first weeks of life, can be particularly hard to treat as it is difficult to know how much chemotherapy to give.

Doctors sometimes have to make tough decisions about the most appropriate dose of a drug, without enough scientific information to help them decide on the best course of action.

The service was set up at the request of doctors at the Great North Children's Hospital, in Newcastle, and other childhood cancer primary treatment centres around the UK.

It works by collecting blood samples after chemotherapy is administered on the first day of treatment. The samples are analysed in real-time to measure individual patient drug exposure, with the results generated used to adjust dosing accordingly. The amount of chemotherapy given over subsequent days is then set to ensure that the patient receives a dose that is most likely to be effective but without causing too much toxicity, such as sickness and diarrhoea.

Professor Gareth Veal, from the Northern Institute for Cancer Research at Newcastle University, is leading the programme.

He said: "Establishing the correct dose of cancer treatment for very young patients has long presented a major clinical challenge as developmental physiological changes can markedly impact on the effect of a drug once it has been administered. …

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