Leukaemia Foundation

Leukaemia, Lymphoma, Myeloma & Related Blood Disorders.

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Ms Katie Lineburg

PhD Scholarship

Supported by Leukaemia Foundation of Queensland 

Researcher:        Ms Katie Lineburg

Institute:              QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
Project title:         Identifying the cells and pathways that contribute
      to chronic graft-versus-host disease
Disease focus:    Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD)
Annual Funding:  $40,000
Funding period:   2014-2017

Sponsored by fundraising for the Leukaemia Foundation of Queensland

Project summary 

Following a stem cell transplant, one of most significant risks of illness and death is from chronic graft-versus-host disease (cGvHD).

cGVHD is triggered when the transplanted donor immune cells begin attacking the host’s skin and internal organs. Ongoing damage from the attacks causes fibrosis (similar to scar tissue) of the skin and internal organs. Fibrosis leads to a build up of connective tissue that eventually destroys the normal tissue and causes internal organ failure.

GVHD occurs in the majority of stem cell transplant patients, with up to 40 per cent of cases leading to death. To help better understand cGVHD, Katie Lineburg is investigating the cellular processes and immune cells involved in driving the disease.

“I hope to define the proteins that regulate the cellular processes involved in chronic graft-versus-host disease as well as identifying the cells that produce these proteins,” said Katie.

“This information would allow us to develop novel therapeutics to improve transplant outcome and broaden its clinical application.”

Through her research, Katie also aims to explain how the transplanted donor immune cells change the host’s immune system. (cGVHD has similarities with some autoimmune diseases.)

Since 2005, the Leukaemia Foundation has awarded more than $1.1 million to progress research into the causes and better treatments for GVHD. Several of these research projects were conducted at QIMR in the laboratories of Katie’s two supervisors, Dr Kelli MacDonald and Professor Geoff Hill.