West Virginia University

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Chemotherapy Study Challenges Conventional Wisdom

Note: The data analyzed was for a short-term study. Preliminary findings have not been corroborated.

A team at the West Virginia University Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program and West Virginia University School of Pharmacy, under the direction of Lead Researcher Dr. Michael Andria, collected data through clinical studies to explore how factors such as combinations of medications, routes and methods of drug administration affected chemotherapy patients' quality-of-life; but with over 34 billion relationships possible within the data, the computing power necessary to analyze the results simply wasn't available.

Parabon's Compute Against Cancer program provided a computationally intense analysis of the clinical data and revealed some very interesting findings. According to Dr. Karen Balzer, Andria's Associate on the project, "Access to massive computation helped find correlations that we were not otherwise able to consider."

Conventional wisdom about drug treatment holds that intravenous (IV) administration of drugs is generally more effective than oral administration. General usage trends of certain drugs used to prevent nausea and vomiting from cancer chemotherapy seem to paint a similar picture: that IV is better. However, the quality of life research conducted to actually test this hypothesis found some surprising results.

Preliminary findings show strong evidence that oral administration of antiemetic drugs to prevent chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting are associated with higher quality of life measures than similarly effective drugs administered intravenously. If subsequent studies confirm this result, the implication is that physicians should re-evaluate preferred methods of antiemetic administration. This information may lead to the minimization of suffering for chemotherapy patients, while at the same time reducing the overall cost of patient care. The cost of oral administration of drugs is dramatically lower than the cost of IV administration.


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