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Media opportunity: Dalhousie University researchers discover how chemotherapy drug used to treat most common childhood cancer affects patients, offering hope for more individualised therapy

Posted by Communications and Marketing on September 7, 2021 in News

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) is the most common childhood cancer and is often treated with asparaginase, a key drug that has helped improve survival rates but which can cause a range of short- and long-term side effects, many of them potentially life-threatening.

Studies have suggested that patients are often given excessively high doses of asparaginase, which may contribute to significant adverse effects from the therapy. Reducing those treatment-related ill effects is a pressing clinical concern since little is known about how to customize therapy to better suit the individual.

Researchers at Dalhousie University are looking at ways to do that by studying bacterial gut gene changes in patients undergoing asparaginase therapy, an area that has not been explored before. Understanding the host response to drugs can help "precisely" dose the drug for each patient, increasing their chances of survival while minimizing the risk of toxicity. 

Dr. Ketan Kulkarni, an associate professor in Dalhousie’s Department of Pediatrics, was the lead author of a recent paper on this field of research and is available to discuss the findings and how understanding gut bacterial gene changes is the next key step in advancing asparaginase therapy.


Media contact:
Alison Auld
Senior Research Reporter
Dalhousie University
Cell: 1-902-220-0491


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