Home' Southern Health News : June 2016 Contents BY SARAH KOLAR
A pilot study based on a question
asked by many vulnerable, elderly
patients “Do I really need all of
these pills?” is being undertaken
by researchers across the state to
determine if reducing the number
of medications taken will improve
quality of life.
Locally, the study will look at 200 patients
over the age of 75 years who take
five or more medications at Noarlunga
Hospital, Flinders Medical Centre and
Repatriation General Hospital, who will be
discharged to a residential care facility.
Principal Investigator Dr Udul Hewage,
who is the Acting Clinical Director of
General Medicine at Noarlunga Hospital,
said the study would help to determine if
de-prescribing medications in elderly, frail
patients would have any clinical benefit.
“We are looking at whether reducing
some of the medication a patient takes will
improve their quality of life by reducing
hospital admissions caused by falls and
medication-related side effects and
complications,” Dr Hewage said.
“Evidence suggests that the older and
frailer a person gets, the less medications
help, and the more likely they are to cause
“This research is designed to look
at any benefits or unexpected risks
of de-prescribing medications.”
Modern medical care can provide many
medications for health problems, whether
it be short-term medications like antibiotics
or longer-term medications like those
used to treat high blood pressure.
However, Dr Hewage said not enough
is known about ceasing medications,
especially in elderly patients.
“Many elderly people complain about being
on too many medications and many of
them might wonder what would happen
if one or more of their regular medications
was ceased,” he said.
“Our purpose is to understand better any
benefits for older people to be on fewer
regular medications and any unforeseen
risks of stopping regular medications.
“We know that often medications are
ceased while a patient is hospitalised.
So we want to collect data about those
patients who had medications stopped and
those who did not, and compare the two
groups later to look for any differences.”
Those who do participate in the trial
will receive follow-up phone calls from
the research team involved in the
trial, following discharge and at one,
three and six month intervals. Their
hospital admissions and reasons for
admissions will be closely monitored.
quality of life for elderly
Research brings new
hope for prostate
One in four Australian men are at risk of
developing prostate cancer before they
reach the age of 85.
Medical Oncologist Dr Ganessan Kichenadasse,
who is based at Repatriation General Hospital and
Flinders Medical Centre, is determined to play his part
in the fight against the devastating disease - leading
promising research into a new therapy for high risk
localised prostate cancer.
“Early stage prostate cancer is typically treated with
surgery or radiation. If it reoccurs, we treat patients
with androgen blocking medications,” Dr Kichenadasse
“What we are trying to do is to repurpose two well-
established medications called as metformin and
sodium valproate to treat prostate cancer.”
These two drugs have shown significant activity in the
laboratory studies performed by the research team
under Professor Pamela Sykes, from Flinders University.
Dr Kichenadasse and his team are confident that these
two medications have the potential to work together
to control the cancer and improve patient outcomes.
“It’s like one drug is helping the other and they are
working together to increase the amount of cancer
“When urological surgeons perform a prostatectomy
they aim to cut out the gland and also some of the
surrounding tissue which is called the surgical margin,”
Dr Kichenadasse explained.
“If cancer cells are still present in the surgical margin this
is generally an indicator for poor prognosis.
“We want to find out if this new drug combination has
any preliminary activity on the cancer to improve the
chance of surgeons successfully removing all the cancer.”
Beginning trials in July, Dr Kichenadasse and the team
are confident this new pre-operative therapy has the
potential to open the option of surgery up for men
suffering from locally advanced prostate cancer.
“If this therapy proves successful we will then look into
whether it can be administered to men with locally
advanced prostate cancer in the hopes of shrinking
their cancer to make it operable,” he said.
“We’re trying to mimic what happens in breast cancer
surgery where often patients receive preoperative
chemotherapy to reduce the size of their cancer before
the surgeon operates.
“We know that these drugs work in laboratory studies;
so now we have the opportunity to find out how best
we can use it to treat prostate cancer in clinical trial
Dr Kichenadasse’s research is being supported with a
grant from The Repat Foundation – The Road Home.
Story supplied courtesy The Repat Foundation – The
Our purpose is to
understand better any
benefits for older people to be
on fewer regular medications
and any unforeseen risks of
stopping regular medications.
DR UDUL HEWAGE
SOUTHERN HEALTH NEWS / JUNE 2016 / 11
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