Research into the side effects of bone pain in childhood leukaemia patients and the use of novel therapies to help detect relapse in myeloma patients will be funded through a partnership between the Leukaemia Foundation, Cancer Australia and other cancer charities.
The two innovative projects will benefit from the funding as part of the Australian Government’s Priority-driven Collaborative Cancer Research Scheme (PdCCRS). This year the work of two early career researchers in South Australia and Western Australia have been co funded under the program which aims to nurture early career medical researchers.
Leukaemia Foundation CEO Bill Petch said supporting promising and exciting medical talent was vital to keeping researchers on Australian soil.
“The Leukaemia Foundation’s commitment to these PdCCRS projects is part of our ongoing, national research strategy to fund innovative projects in areas where a need for research to be prioritised has been identified,” he said.
The PdCCRS allows Cancer Australia funding partners to join together to fund projects that have been identified as cancer research priorities. By pooling resources through the PdCCRS, organisations ensure that every dollar committed through the program goes directly to funding research.
“The partnership ensures research supported by the Leukaemia Foundation is high quality, and that Australian researchers have the opportunity.”
“This funding is part of the Leukaemia Foundation’s commitment to fund early career researchers and part of the $50 million National Research Program which began in 2002.
The successful funding candidates are:
Dr Laurence Cheung – Telethon Kids Institute. Perth, WA
Total PdCCR grant $200,000 over two years
Leukaemia Foundation contribution of $67,000
Many children diagnosed with leukaemia suffer bone pain. Skeletal defects and reduced bone formation are also commonly observed, suggesting leukaemia cells can alter the surrounding bone cells and possibly favour leukaemia development in the bone marrow.
It is well documented that the immediate environment (neighbouring cells) of cancer cells influences many stages of cancer progression. Dr Cheung’s team has established pre-clinical models that reproduce the changes in the bones of children with leukaemia.
This research will study the interaction between bone cells and leukaemia cells, and evaluate if restoration of a healthy bone marrow environment improves treatment outcomes. A combined approach that targets both cancer cells and neighbouring cells has the potential to translate into a highly effective strategy to treat the children diagnosed with leukaemia.
Dr Melissa Cantley – South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI). Adelaide, SA
Total PdCCR grant of $200,000 over two years
Leukaemia Foundation contribution of $67,000
Multiple myeloma is a deadly blood cancer that is diagnosed in 140,000 people worldwide each year. It is preceded by a pre-cancerous condition, known as smouldering myeloma.
Patients who have smouldering myeloma are often difficult to diagnose as they do not exhibit the debilitating bone disease and other symptoms that are characteristic of multiple myeloma.
Every year, 1 in every 10 smouldering myeloma patients will develop multiple myeloma; however, at this time there are no diagnostic tests that can be used to identify those patients that are going to develop multiple myeloma.
Early detection of smouldering myeloma patients at high-risk of developing multiple myeloma, is critical to enable early treatment in order to maximise their chance of survival. Dr Cantley’s team will use a state-of-the-art technique known as proteomics that allows them to identify protein markers in the blood that are uniquely present in high-risk smouldering myeloma patients.
They hope that these studies will enable the development of new diagnostic tests to identify those high-risk patients to enable them to receive early treatment to improve their chance of survival.
To find out more about the Leukaemia Foundation’s National Research Project and how to support future investment go to www.leukaemia.org.au.
Ryan Fritz started The Advocate in 2014 to provide not-for-profits and charities another media platform to tell their worthwhile hard news stories and opinion pieces effortlessly. In 2020, Ryan formed a team of volunteer journalists to help spread even more high-quality stories from the third sector. He also has over 10 years experience as a media and communications professional for not-for-profits and charities and currently works at Redkite, a childhood cancer charity.