B.C. scientist calls for genetic test across Canada to predict kids’ risks of chemo drugs

B.C. scientist calls for genetic test across Canada to predict kids' risks of chemo drugs

Photo courtesy CBC.

Photo courtesy CBC.

A scientist at B.C. Children’s Hospital hopes the lab test he developed can be used across the country for doctors to discuss less harmful treatments with parents of children battling cancer.

Bruce Carleton, the director of the Pharmaceutical Outcomes Programme at Children’s Hospital, says the genetic test predicts how susceptible children are to the potentially life-threatening side effects of chemotherapy drugs.

Tests were done to determine reactions to three drugs, now the focus in on five other medications and part of a four-year Genome Canada study.

The project would include creating a genetic database accessible by doctors around the world.

Carleton and colleague Colin Ross have tested patients the last two years to determine their reaction risks to three commonly prescribed drugs.

Side effects include heart failure, hearing loss or suppression of bone marrow, which reduces the body’s ability to fight infections.

Carleton said the five medications now being looked at have been known to pose a risk for bone disease, pancreatitis, anaphylaxis, nerve damage in the limbs, and inflammation of the mucous membranes, including those that may prevent patients from swallowing.

The tests help oncologists determine the risks of the treatments and consider lowering the dosage of a harmful drug or providing an alternative therapy.

With files from the Canadian Press.

Andy NealAndy Neal

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