This data helped him evaluate the impact that antibiotics and Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) can have on patients undergoing immunotherapy treatment for metastic lung cancer.
“With approximately 30 per cent of cancer patients using antibiotics and PPIs alongside immunotherapies, there is substantial opportunity for drug interactions,” says Dr Hopkins.
“There was an urgent need for evidence on the safety of using these medicines together.”
Dr Hopkins’ seed funded study discovered that antibiotics did not impact immunotherapy cancer treatment, but that PPIs were consistently associated with decreased effectiveness of immunotherapies.
The detailed results of the study will now inform the development of treatment guidelines on the appropriate use of antibiotics, PPIs, and immunotherapies for patients with lung cancer, helping to improve their outcomes.
It’s a timely research study. Lung cancer represents nine per cent of the 150,000 new cancer cases in Australia each year, which alarmingly accounts for more than 22 per cent of national cancer deaths annually.
The results of the seed funded research project have now been published in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology, a leading international medical journal.
Dr Hopkins says, “This international recognition has helped me gain a five-year Investigator Grant from the NHMRC to expand this study to more medicines and other cancer types.”
Dr Hopkins believes the critical first steps in his expanding precision medicine cancer research program was the University’s Impact Seed Funding for Early Career Researchers program.
"Without the initial seed funding, it would not have been possible to build a track record by demonstrating that patient outcomes could be improved through precision medicine."
He says, “Seed funding is very important for allowing early career researchers to kick-start their research. In my case, it enabled the completion of a project of significant international interest in treating lung cancer, which will now expand into breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer research.”