Landmark trial for blood cancer

By Megan Brodie 3 years ago | In Industry, Products
  • 3 years ago

4 August 2021

Up to 480 Australian adult patients with aggressive blood cancers will have access to genomic testing and, where eligible, potentially be matched with novel therapies under a landmark national trial that could pave the way for the future of blood cancer treatment in Australia.

Following on from a highly successful program introducing genomic testing to treat solid tumours, a number of major research and medical institutions are partnering to support and deliver genomic screening to people with high-grade lymphomas and acute leukaemia under a $1.8 million pilot program for an initial 240 patients.

Co-funded by the Leukaemia Foundation and Tour de Cure, the program will commence in Brisbane and expand to Adelaide in 2021, with additional funding of $2.7 million from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) enabling further expansion and 240 more patients to be added to the pilot in 2022 and beyond.

Leukaemia Foundation CEO Chris Tanti

Leukaemia Foundation CEO Chris Tanti said more than 50 Australians are diagnosed with blood cancer every day and it was now the second largest cause of cancer-related death in the country. He said the importance of improving access to genomic screening and clinical trials could not be over-stated.

“If we are to have any hope of reducing blood cancer mortality in this country, we must shift our focus away from treating blood cancer subtypes with a ‘one size fits all’ approach and towards targeted therapies,” Tanti said.

“Genomic testing illuminates the best treatment path for each individual patient and the potential for delivering precision medicine tailored to them may result in improved survival, less side effects than some traditional treatment options, less time spent in treatment and greater quality of life.

“This research program will provide a new model of rapid clinical translation and access to novel treatments for high-risk blood cancers in Australia. Importantly, findings through this program may improve patient outcomes and ultimately change the management of advanced blood cancers.”

“Together, genomic screening, clinical trials and precision medicine have the power to revolutionise the way we treat blood cancer in Australia and bolster the national blood cancer community’s concerted work to achieve zero lives lost to this complex set of diseases by 2035.”

MoST-LLy plays drug matchmaker

The new program, tagged the Blood Cancer Genomics Trial (MoST-LLy), will leverage the experience, infrastructure and design of the Molecular Screening and Therapeutics (MoST) Program, which is pioneering the use of precision medicine in treating solid tumours.

The MoST-LLy program will initially match aggressive lymphoma patients with the best available or promising new treatment, followed by patients with other blood cancers later this year. The program will also research biomarkers of response or resistance to treatments to further develop precision-based therapy options.

Professor Steven Lane

The program is a collaboration between the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, Royal Adelaide Hospital, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, SA Pathology, Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Omico (the Australian Genomic Cancer Medicine Centre) and the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre at the University of Sydney.

QIMR Berghofer cancer program head and leading haematologist at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, Professor Steven Lane, said the program provides a systematic way of understanding genetic changes occurring, developing a clinical report assessing these changes, and using that information to determine a better treatment pathway for the patient.

“This program firstly involves providing access to genetic sequencing then bringing together those with knowledge and understanding of these genes to determine which of these genetic changes occurring are significant in terms of driving cancer development, and which changes are simply incidental,” he said.

“We can use the sequencing information to inform the patient of a treatment type which may work best for their specific situation – and that tailored treatment may be accessible through an available clinical trial in Australia.”

©MedNews 2021

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