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Data science to help predict, prevent adverse drug reactions in children with cancer

May 07, 2018
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Cancer treatments can often lead to adverse drug reactions (ADRs) which not only affect the patient’s recovery but can also lead to permanent disabilities and death. For children undergoing cancer treatment, the risk of severe ADRs is even greater.

“ADRs in children are three-fold more likely to be life-threatening,” says Martin Ester, a professor in SFU’s School of Computing Science.

“A staggering 75 per cent of childhood cancer patients develop chronic health conditions and 42 per cent develop disabling or life-threatening ADRs from cancer treatment.”

Ester is a part of a research team that was recently awarded $9.9 million through Genome Canada’s 2017 Large-Scale Applied Research Project Competition: Genomics and Precision Health. The team is led by Drs. Bruce Carleton and Colin Ross from B.C. Children’s Hospital, who are studying how patients' responses to medication is influenced by their genes, a field known as pharmacogenomics.

Ester, who was named the world's most influential data mining scholar (AMiner) in 2016, is leading a sub-project to mine the full clinical and genomic ADR dataset using a machine learning approach.

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