Kingston University research aims to improve 'chemo' treatment for cancer sufferers

A Kingston University pharmacist has secured funding to explore ways to improve chemotherapy treatment for cancer sufferers.

Professor Graham Sewell, from the School of Pharmacy and Chemistry, will look at how the anticancer drug oxaliplatin can best be administered to maximise effectiveness, reduce the risk of medication errors and ensure that chemotherapy is quickly available to patients attending clinics. The three-year study into the drug, which is most commonly used to treat colon cancer, has received a £182,180 grant from the Kidani Memorial Trust.

“The doses of chemotherapy needed by cancer patients can vary each time they visit a hospital,” Professor Sewell said. “Currently if a patients' condition has changed since their last assessment the pharmacy department has to make up a new dose of oxaliplatin, which is administered through a liquid drip. This can take considerable time and, because of the pressure to avoid delays in patients receiving their treatment, potentially increases the risk of medication errors.” The research will examine whether the drug can be made into a series of different doses in advance and stored for three months or more. The process known as dose-banding, which offers the additional advantage of allowing time to test the drug dose to avoid errors, is already used successfully with other types of chemotherapy drug.  Professor Sewell has been studying cancer for almost 20 years and has had over 65 papers published on the subject. “I'm hoping this study will make it easier to administer this drug and reduce the need for patients to have to wait for several hours in hospital for their medication which can itself cause distress and even anticipatory nausea and vomiting,” he said. The dose-banding approach also eliminates drug wastage, making chemotherapy with new, expensive drugs more affordable.

The research has been funded thanks to a £182,180 grant from the Kidani Memorial Trust, which was set up by Japanese scientist Yorishino Kidani and has previously funded studies at London's Royal Marsden Hospital. Professor Sewell added: “A lot of emphasis in cancer research is about finding that miracle cure, but it is equally important for researchers to make sure the drugs we currently have available are working in the best way they possibly can to help people who are suffering with this disease right now.”  


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