Dr Stephanie Reuter Lange from the University of South Australia has been awarded a Cancer Council Project grant, to explore how computer-based modelling can optimise cancer treatment and remove the need for expensive clinical trials.

While cancer treatments are most successful when personalised to an individual, Dr Reuter Lange says most cancer medicines are still administered with a “one size fits all” approach. “Despite substantial improvements in the treatment of cancer, three out of 10 patients will still not survive longer than five years, due to either cancer progression or death from severe treatment-related side effects,” Dr Reuter Lange says.

“There is no field of medicine in which individualisation of medicines is more important than in the area of oncology. There is large variability in how patients respond to many cancer medicines, which can result in either undertreatment that leads to cancer progression, or overtreatment that can have significant toxic side effects. The concept of dose individualisation means we can tailor the amount of a drug administered to an individual patient to maximise tumour response and minimise side effects. My focus will be to use computer-based modelling methods to identify dose individualisation strategies for best treatment practice.”

Dr Reuter Lange’s work uses the science of mathematical and stasitical models to characterise drug behaviour, helping clinicians make an educated decision on the most appropriate treatment regimes. “This work will provide an evidence-basis for dose individualisation of cancer therapies, offsetting the need for the conduct of costly, large-scale clinical trials,” she says. “Ultimately this work will lead to improved patient outcomes and provide a framework on which treatment guidelines can be based for the optimal use of new and existing cancer therapies.”

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