15 March 2012

Dr Stephanie Reuter LangeUniSA scientist Dr Stephanie Reuter Lange will soon travel to the United States to expand on her research into why the response to medications varies between patients.

Having been one of just 25 Australians to receive a 2012 Fulbright Scholarship, Dr Reuter Lange will undertake research in pharmaceutical modelling (pharmacometrics) during her visit to the U.S.

Pharmacometrics offers the ability to characterise a drug’s behaviour within the body and examine what factors contribute to the variability in drug exposure and response between patients; this information can then be used to facilitate drug development and optimise medication use.

During four months in Buffalo at The State University of New York, Dr Reuter Lange will focus her research on the treatment of malaria which will have ramifications for a range of medications. 

“I currently work on a wide range of clinical trials, but this work will take that one step further and examine the variability between patients because people respond differently to medications – you give the same treatment to two different people and you might get two different results,” she said.

“Treating malaria can be quite delicate because you are trying to get a balance, you don’t want to give the patient too much drug because it may cause unwanted side effects, but on the other hand you don’t want to give too little or there is a risk that you might not cure them. 

“In Buffalo I will look at what factors may influence a patient’s response to malaria treatment so we can get a better understanding of how these drugs could be used more effectively.”

Dr Reuter Lange will also undertake research in carnitine deficiency during her time in Buffalo. 

Deficiency in carnitine – a natural compound that is important in energy production – is a common problem in patients with kidney failure undergoing dialysis treatment.

“Some of the previous research we have conducted has shown how carnitine levels change over time once people start dialysis and the relationship between this and other dialysis problems; my work in Buffalo will be able to add value to what we already know about this important compound,” she said.

“It makes it an exciting field to be involved in when you can work on aspects that have a direct impact on people’s health. Science is a puzzle and I love trying to figure out the answer to these puzzles.” 

This year, the University of South Australia will host the 2012 Fulbright Symposium – Securing our cyber future. The Symposium will be held from August 15 to 16 at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

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