Drakes Supermarkets giving patients with advanced cancers the best chance of survival

Ryan Hodges and Dr Madelé van Dyk pictured with Wendy Drake, Flinders Foundation Executive Director, Ross Verschoor, and Roger Drake at the Drakes Charity Showbag morning tea

Drakes Supermarkets are giving patients with advanced cancers the best chance of survival and precious time to spend with their loved ones.

Flinders Foundation has been a grateful beneficiary of Drakes’ Charity Showbag for many years.

From the 2020 sales of the popular showbag, $13,649 was recently donated to support precision dosing cancer research at Flinders.

This funding will support research in Dr Madelé van Dyk’s laboratory, where the team is helping around 200 patients with advanced cancers who are receiving ‘targeted therapy’ by moving away from the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, and towards each patient receiving a personalised dose tailored to their own body.

Unlike more traditional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy which target all cells in the body - including healthy cells - ‘targeted therapies’ are unique in that they target specific proteins involved in the cancer cells and block both the blood and nutrient supply to the tumour and tumour growth.

Getting the “right amount of drug” to the patient is crucial, and through research a defined ‘target concentration’ has been identified to indicate how much of the drugs patients should receive. But as these drugs are taken orally at a ‘one-size fits-all’ dose, and each patient metabolises and absorbs the drug differently, blood concentrations can differ 20-100 per cent between patients.

“Body type, age, genetics, gender, ethnicity and drug metabolism are all factors which affect how much of the drug you end up with in your body,” Dr van Dyk explains.

“This concentration level is important because it’s the amount of drug the tumour will be exposed to – if it’s not enough, then the tumour won’t stop growing and if it’s too much then it can be incredibly toxic for the patient.”

Via a simple blood sample, Dr van Dyk’s team have developed methods to determine the end concentration of the drug in each individual patient. By passing these results on to the patient’s oncologist, the drug levels can be monitored and doses can be increased or decreased to optimise their treatment.

“We want to get rid of the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach and come up with a personalised approach for every patient to make sure they get the dose their body needs to give them the best chance of benefiting from the treatment,” Dr Van Dyk says.

“That means the best quality of life and the best chance of survival while minimising the toxicity they’re exposed to.”

This generous support from Drakes will help the research team work with oncologists to help implement personalised dosing for more patients, like 38-year-old Ryan Hodges. 

Living with stage 4 lung cancer, Ryan was one of the first patients involved in Dr van Dyk’s personalised dosing studies six years ago and since then he’s dedicated much of his free time to raising funds for research into precision dosing and targeted cancer therapies.

Ryan and Dr van Dyk were guests of Drakes Supermarkets’ Charity Showbag morning tea, sharing with those in attendance how Drakes’ support will help give more patients like Ryan the best chance of survival and precious time to spend with son Ollie and wife Helen.

This is the first research of its kind in South Australia - something South Australian company Drakes Supermarkets is proud to support.

Thank you to Drakes and their wonderful suppliers and customers for making a difference for patients and their families affected by cancer.

You too can support research at Flinders by making a donation here Donate Now

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