New blood cancer centre to improve patient outcomes

blood cancer, cancer research, donate to cancer,Alfred Health and Monash University are set to establish Australia’s first dedicated blood cancer research centre, thanks to a $1.2 million grant from the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF).

The ACRF Blood Cancer Therapeutics Centre, based at The Alfred, will be home to the latest technology available in blood cancer research and will enable researchers to dramatically improve outcomes for patients with blood cancer.

Each year, 11,500 Australians are diagnosed with blood cancer, including leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. Sadly, these debilitating diseases – which account for one in 10 cancers diagnosed nationally – claim 4000 lives every year.

Dr Andrew Wei, haematologist at The Alfred and Monash University, said the new centre will enable researchers to find out more about these cancers – including why some treatments work for some people and others don’t – and develop new ways to treat them.

“Many of our patients with various forms of blood cancer have had great success in clinical trials, which use new and unique drug combinations,” Dr Wei said.

“Utilising the most up to date technology available, this new centre will enable us to discover more effective therapies, track patient treatment responses up to 1000 times more closely, and improve therapies to get better outcomes overall for patients.

“Blood cancers are relatively neglected when it comes to research. Thanks to this grant, Monash University and The Alfred will be at the forefront of blood cancer research – it is the only way we can improve outcomes for people diagnosed with blood cancer.”

Mary McKenzie is one such patient who owes her life to the clinical trials that will now be available to more people through the new centre. Five years ago Mary was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia and after several treatments failed, took part in a drug trial at the Alfred.

“My chances of survival were really low, but here I am now five years later and I’m better than I’ve been in years. The trial saved me,” she said.

“Having the opportunity to go on the trial gave me hope there was still something they could do. This opportunity should be available to everybody.”

The flagship centre will collect samples from across the country. It is one of only four projects nationally to receive an ACRF grant this year.

“This project encompasses a virtuous cycle of drug discovery, validation, personalised molecular monitoring and improvement of new treatment combinations. It is something ACRF feels has the potential to become a flagship success,” said Australian Cancer Research Foundation CEO Professor Ian Brown.

New method of treating solid tumours discovered from existing research

Prof Scott accepting ACRF grant 2011 - 1 A team of international scientists from ACRF-funded research institutes Monash University and Ludwig Institute of Cancer Research have uncovered that an antibody against the protein EphA3, could potentially be applied to treat a wide range of different cancers.

The protein EphA3 was discovered in 1992 by Professor Andrew Boyd for its role in promoting leukaemia cancer cells and an anti-body is now in clinical trials to treat this mutation in leukaemias.

Further discoveries showed aggressive brain tumours could also be targeted by this therapy, which you can read about here. EphA3 is present in normal organs only during embryonic development but is released in blood cancers and solid tumours, fuelling cancer growth and providing a target for anti-bodies.

The research team led jointly by the late Professor Martin Lackmann, from the School of Biomedical Studies at Monash; and Professor Andrew Scott, from Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research used laboratory models of prostate cancer to mimic disease progression in humans.

EphA3 was found in stromal cells and blood vessels surrounding the tumour and they observed that treatment with an antibody against EhpA3 (chIIIA4) significantly slowed tumour growth. The antibody damaged tumour blood vessels and disrupted the stromal micro-environment, and cancer cells died because their ‘life-support’ was restricted.

Professor Scott said, “in addition, we screened various tumours from patient biopsies – sarcomas, melanomas as well as prostate, colon, breast, brain and lung cancers – and confirmed EphA3 expression on stromal cells and newly forming blood vessels.”

“Our research findings indicate that the tumour micro-environment is important, and monoclonal antibodies against EphA3 are one way to target and kill a variety of solid tumours as well as blood cancer.”

[Pictured above: Professor Andrew Scott from Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research receiving a recent ACRF grant of $2 million.][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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. Continue reading “Simple blood test could revolutionise treatment plans for Hodgkin Lymphoma patients”

ACRF-funded cancer research centre will speed up the fight against Leukaemia

ACRF provides  million to leukaemia research project in MelbourneA new research centre set to fast-track leukaemia discoveries and other types of blood cancer research from the lab to the hospital bedside was opened today by the Victorian Minister for Health, David Davis. Established through a $1 million grant from the ACRF, The Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) Centre for Translational Research will provide new hope to thousands of people with blood cancers. The facility is located at The Royal Melbourne Hospital, which sees more than 120 new leukaemia cases and performs some 80 bone marrow transplants each year. The Translational Research Centre will therefore provide a seamless link between the Hospital and collaborating research facilities, including the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, the University of Melbourne and The Royal Melbourne’s Diagnostic Haematology Laboratory and clinical services. Executive Director of Research at The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Prof Ingrid Winship said such a centre was vital to improve outcomes for patients. Continue reading “ACRF-funded cancer research centre will speed up the fight against Leukaemia”