Have you listened to HSANZ President, Leanne Berkan's interview with Sunalie Silva in the limbic today?
She reflects on 2020 in terms of haematology, talks about what to expect in haematology in 2021, a little about HSANZ and gives a plug for our Blood 2021 conference in September in Adelaide.
Click this link for the podcast
It is with great excitement that we congratulate Vice Present and President Elect, Associate Professor Steven Lane from the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute on winning the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia Metcalf Prize.
Associate Professor Steven Lane wants to lift the survival rates of his leukaemia patients. He thinks the key could lie in the genetic fingerprints of the blood cancer stem cells that proliferate the disease.
Steven’s research has been funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council, CSL Centenary Fellowship, Cancer Australia, Leukaemia Foundation, Cure Cancer Australia, Gordon and Jessie Gilmour Trust, MPN Research Foundation, MPN Alliance of Australia, and others.
Read more about Steven’s work here. If you’d like to send your congratulations, his email address is here.
The Metcalf Prizes are named for the late Professor Donald Metcalf, AC, who transformed cancer treatment with his discoveries of critical molecules that tell stem cells to multiply and mature to boost the immune system.
The media release is below:
Using stem cell research to fight cancer has won two Australian researchers $55,000 each in the annual Metcalf Prizes for Stem Cell Research, awarded by the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia.
Associate Professor Steven Lane of the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute wants to lift the survival rates of his leukaemia patients. He thinks the key could lie in the genetic fingerprints of the blood cancer stem cells that proliferate the disease.
Steven is studying how these cells become resistant to treatment through genetic changes. He will use the knowledge to develop more effective and tailored therapies, both to prevent and treat potentially fatal relapses.
Dr Melanie Eckersley-Maslin—a new recruit of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre—believes the proteins which control the growth of cells in embryos could teach us how to stop the uncontrolled growth of cells in cancer.
The scientists have been recognised by the Foundation for their early-career leadership in stem cell research.
“Melanie Eckersley-Maslin and Steven Lane are taking two very different stem cell research approaches to understand, prevent and treat different types of cancer,” says Dr Graeme Blackman AO, the chairman of the Foundation.
The awards are named for the late Professor Donald Metcalf AC who, over a 50-year career, helped transform cancer treatment and transplantation medicine, paving the way for potential stem cell therapy in the treatment of many other conditions.
The 2020 Metcalf Prizes for Stem Cell Research will be formally presented by molecular biologist Professor Suzanne Cory AC FAA FRS at a special event in Melbourne on Monday 8 February 2021.
The NSCFA is an ATO-registered, tax-deductible health promotion charity dedicated to promoting the study and responsible use of stem cells to reduce the burden of disease.
The Foundation’s activities include:
The Foundation is led by an expert volunteer Board, with a diversity of scientific, medical and governance experience. The Chairman is Dr Graeme Blackman, AO, FTSE, FAICD.
The Board consults with leading stem cell scientists before committing funds to research and education initiatives.
More at website
Issue 52 of Lymphoma and Leukaemia Research Review
This issue begins with research reporting good tolerability of BR (bendamustine, rituximab) in patients aged ≥80 years with CLL, with efficacy and safety similar to that seen in younger patients as long as carefully adapted dosing is applied.
The PDF can be viewed here, and now you can also view the issue online.
Women currently working in the healthcare sector have a final opportunity to register their interest in a scholarship worth up to AUD$5,000 to support participation in an accredited leadership development program.
Funding must be apportioned promptly, and it is unsure when these grants will be available again. Find out more and register your interest by completing the Expression of Interest form prior to 5pm on Monday, 14 December 2020.
The phase I safety trial, called ENABLE, is part the of the Malaghan Institute’s research and development of a new version of CAR T-cell technology, in partnership with Wellington Zhaotai Therapies Limited. The trial will involve up to 12 participants with certain types of relapsed and refractory B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma who have exhausted other treatment options.
Malaghan Institute Clinical Director Dr Robert Weinkove says the production of CAR T-cells is a major step in the development of the Institute’s cell therapy capabilities.
“Chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapies are being offered to treat certain types of B-cell lymphoma (lymph node cancer) in countries such as Australia and the UK. For this early phase safety trial of a new type of CAR T-cell therapy, we’ll be manufacturing the cells in the dedicated cell therapy suite at the Malaghan Institute in Wellington.
“Because the safety and effectiveness are not yet known, this will be a small trial for a limited number of participants. Nonetheless, this is a very exciting milestone, and we hope the experience and knowledge we gain from the ENABLE trial will help more New Zealanders benefit from CAR T-cell therapies in the future.”
Dr Weinkove says the trial will not be the right option for everyone, and it is important that patients speak with their specialist about their treatment options. “Referrals for the trial can only be accepted from haematologists or oncologists, who will be advised of the criteria and how to refer.”
Dr Weinkove says the trial is taking place at a single centre, to allow close monitoring of participants, but referrals from other hospitals will be considered. “With support from Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand, we hope to be able to provide travel and accommodation support for participants from outside our region.”
For the rest of the article, click here
Julian Grabek is one of HSANZ / LF's PhD recipients for 2021, and is showing his research skills already. His work is on Identifying subclones in early phase MPN that drive progression and leukaemic transformation
Myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN) are clonal haematological disorders of stem cells. These stem cells undergo a mutation that drives an overproduction of blood cells. MPNs include
Throughout the course of the disease the stem cells are driven by specific mutations (JAK2, CALR and MPL) but over time additional genetic mutations are acquired leading to progression of the disease to either secondary myelofibrosis and bone marrow failure or acute myeloid leukaemia. These outcomes have limited treatment options and have a poor prognosis.
High risk stem cells with the potential to develop into leukaemia can be identified early in the disease but are often a “needle in a haystack” when compared to the rest of the MPN stem cells. By using cutting edge single cell technology Dr Grabek will separate each individual cell of the MPN stem cells. Through a combination of mutational analysis by novel nanopore technology and assessment of downstream gene signalling he will be able to determine the early stages of leukaemia development in these disorders. In future, he hopes to establish which treatments have the potential to arrest these early changes and prevent transformation to leukaemia.
for the article on the LF website, click here
HSANZ Member, Professor John Seymour, Director of Clinical Haematology at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Royal Melbourne Hospital, has been named as among the most influential in the world in the annual Highly Cited Researchers 2020 list
The list identifies scientists who have published papers ranking in the top 1% by citations by peers in their field over the past ten years. Among the 6,400 Highly Cited Researchers across 21 fields of the sciences there are 482 named in the clinical sciences section and 199 in immunology research.
See this article in the limbic for full story
HSANZ is pleased to be invited again to partner the American Society of Hematology for the Highlights of ASH series which will be taking place virtually in March 2021. All Members of HSANZ will be entitled to a discounted registration.
ASH is excited to share additional information in the coming weeks, but the regional meetings originally scheduled to take place in North America (January), the Mediterranean (February), Asia-Pacific (March), and Latin America (April) will be offered as as a collective virtual experience in March 2021. More information about the program and registration will be available in early 2021.
Meanwhile, here is the 2021 Highlights of ASH website. As soon as we know more, we will post it here.
LF has put together a page on our PhD Scholarship recipients. We thought you might like to see it too.
HSANZ were pleased to be a signatory to the National Strategic Action Plan for Blood Cancer coordinated by the Leukaemia Foundation.
Blood cancers are one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in Australia today and one of the biggest causes of cancer death.
The National Strategic Action Plan for Blood Cancer is a blueprint to coordinate and accelerate national efforts to improve survival and quality of life for people diagnosed with blood cancer and to support their carers and families.
It identifies four major priorities:
The National Action Plan was commissioned by the Australian Government and launched by the health Minister in September 2020.
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