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Media opportunity: Dalhousie University study shows the ill effects of antimicrobials in large pediatric leukemia and lymphoma population in Atlantic Canada
Antibiotics and antifungal medications are critical in the care of leukemia and lymphoma patients to prevent certain infections that could be life-threatening due to their weakened immunity.
Their use in treatment can, however, adversely affect the microbiome -- a collection of microbes, such as bacteria, fungi and viruses, that live inside and on our bodies and protect us against pathogens, help our immune system develop and aid in food digestion to produce energy.
Researchers at Dalhousie University wanted to better understand the effect to which antimicrobials affect gut health and studied a large cohort of pediatric leukemia and lymphoma patients undergoing treatment.
The team, led by Dr. Ketan Kulkarni, found that the use of antibiotics resulted in a compromised gut defense system in the 47 pediatric oncology patients with leukemia and lymphoma who contributed over 150 stool samples prospectively since 2017 for the current study.
The work, outlined in a new paper published in the journal Frontiers, highlights the importance of using antimicrobials judiciously and the value of targeted therapies, while also paving the way for future studies looking at modified treatments, such as using oral probiotics.
Dr. Kulkarni, a pediatric hematologist-oncologist and associate professor at Dalhousie, is available to discuss the findings and the need for a reassessment of when and how these medications are used in this vulnerable population.
Senior Research Reporter
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