Simple blood test could revolutionise treatment plans for Hodgkin Lymphoma patients

Queensland researchers are paving the way towards less invasive and more personalised treatment plans for patients with the blood cancer type, Hodgkin Lymphoma.

Based at Queensland’s Institute of Medical Research (QIMR), the research team have developed a blood test which detects levels of a key protein – known as CD163 – during and after Chemotherapy.

Importantly, CD163 shows elevated levels in Hodgkin lymphoma patients’ serum, and it decreases when tumours shrink after treatment.

“Testing for these protein levels, using a simple blood test, could show doctors whether the treatment is working, whether they can reduce the doses, or, conversely, whether they need to increase the doses to beat the cancer,” said Ms Kimberly Jones, who co-led the research study together with Professor Maher Gandhi.

“In short, it means a way forward to personalised treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma patients, and hopefully smaller doses of chemotherapy drugs.”

Approximately 400 Australians are diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma every year, and it most commonly occurs in adolescents and young adults.

This study was conducted across six years, and saw 47 Hodgkin lymphoma patients through from diagnosis to recovery. The next steps will be to test the study internationally, in collaboration with the Australasian Leukaemia Lymphoma Group and doctors in the UK.

“Up until now, clinicians have relied on scans to help them judge how well people are responding to chemotherapy,” said Professor Gandhi.

“This discovery means we can work towards using simple blood tests to provide quicker, cheaper, and more regular monitoring of how a person is responding to treatment. “

The ACRF is proud to be part of the fantastic research work at QIMR, having awarded more than $4 million to this world-class research centre.