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World-first blood test offers profound insight into blood cancer treatment

Publish Date: 30/3/2017

Leukaemia Foundation supporters have helped to fund a world-first liquid biopsy which will change the trajectory of blood cancer management and treatment.

The breakthrough liquid biopsy – or blood test - was developed by internationally renowned researchers Professor Mark Dawson and Associate Professor Sarah-Jane Dawson, from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

With the potential to substantially reduce painful and invasive biopsies, the world-first liquid biopsy will help monitor the blood for tiny fragments of DNA released from cancer cells. It will give doctors regular, precise insights into a person’s disease, allowing for more effective and personalised targeted therapies.

At the heart of Prof. Dawson and A/Prof. Dawson’s progress are Leukaemia Foundation supporters who have provided these ground-breaking researchers and their dedicated team with critical funding over the past five years.

This powerful combination has achieved a world-first discovery which will have a truly profound impact on more than 60,000 Australians who are currently living with a blood cancer diagnosis and ensure every individual is receiving personalised treatment for their disease.

Prof. Dawson hopes that Leukaemia Foundation supporters will feel proud for having supported this work.

 “As clinicians we see every day the adversity caused by cancer,” said Prof. Dawson. “The fact that Leukaemia Foundation supporters use this personal experience as an inspiration to fund cancer research to improve the outcome of others who may be unrelated to them is a testament to how important the task at hand is.”

Prof. Dawson says the development of the liquid biopsy was built on a large body of work pioneered by A/Prof. Sarah-Jane Dawson and an amazing multi-disciplinary team of researchers who are fearless in their pursuit of knowledge – working to achieve results that can only be gained through collaboration.

“We realise our responsibility in using community donations to develop new and improved ways to diagnose, monitor and treat cancer,” said Prof. Dawson “Our team pursues difficult tasks that hold the promise of making substantial changes to the natural history of some of our worst cancers."

Prof. Dawson pointed out that support from the Leukaemia Foundation has driven the basic research that ultimately culminates in these discoveries.

“This development is an example of what our team has been able to achieve and I will assure you that there is much more to come,” he said.

Caroline Turnour, the Leukaemia Foundation’s General Manager, Research, Advocacy & Services says patients want to live longer and with a better quality of life.

“These new tests will ensure that patients will receive more personalised treatment, not just what historically is known to work for a disease,” she said. “This will mean less treatment-related toxicity and more patient-driven clinical care.”  

The Leukaemia Foundation is committed to improving the lives of people living with blood cancers and this is a great example of how our research programs are making a real difference.

The liquid biopsy test in various blood cancers is expected to be offered through the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in late 2017.

For more information on our research programs or to make a valuable donation today to support the work of cutting-edge researchers please visit  www.leukaemia.org.au/research

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