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Leukaemia Foundation to partner with Tour de Cure for the inaugural Life Ride

Leukaemia Foundation to partner with Tour de Cure for the inaugural Life Ride

The Leukaemia Foundation and Tour de Cure will combine forces in 2019 to host the first Life Ride – an inspiring three-day cycling event to help fund research and find a cure for blood cancer.

The inaugural Life Ride will be held in the spectacular Margaret River region of Western Australia from Sunday, November 24 to Tuesday, November 26, taking riders on a three-day adventure travelling up to 380 kms through the region’s pristine beaches, magnificent forests and incredible wineries of the region.

The ride will be stages of loops with each day departing from Margaret River and incorporating Cape Leeuwin, Cape Naturaliste and the magnificent wine region.  The route will also see the Life Ride team share the Tour de Cure BE FIT BE HEALTHY BE HAPPY cancer prevention message with over 2,500 kids along the way.

Leukaemia Foundation CEO Bill Petch said Life Ride was the next step of an exciting relationship with Tour de Cure and an opportunity to inspire riders to enjoy an epic cycling experience while raising awareness of the increasing incidence rates of blood cancer in Australia.

“Tour de Cure is an amazing organisation and the Leukaemia Foundation is excited to be partnering with them for this event for the first time in 2019. Tour de Cure have been supporting the Leukaemia Foundation through their annual grant program since 2009 and have provided over $700,000 to date in support of people living with blood cancer,” Mr Petch said.

Life Ride will be a fantastic opportunity for our two organisations to bring together our supporters for a special cycling tour while raising vital funds for game-changing cancer research, support and prevention projects that will bring us closer to a world without blood cancer.” Petch said

Tour de Cure’s vision is to end cancer in our lifetime. Over the last 12 years, the organisation has raised over $45 million through cycling events, walks, corporate health challenges, gala functions and kids BE HEALTHY programs.

“We encourage thousands of people around the country every year to raise awareness and funds that will enable world class cancer research, support and prevention projects,” Geoff , Co-Founder and Director of Development, Tour de Cure, says.

Tour de Cure has funded 322 cancer projects, contributed to over 25 scientific breakthroughs, and talked to over 110,000 school children about making healthy lifestyle decisions; knowing that one in three cancers can be prevented through lifestyle choices.

“While this sounds impressive, we are only able to fund a quarter of all cancer project grant applications made to us each year. We are determined to fund more, because we know that our funding allows the continuation of vital cancer research in Australia,” Mr Coombes adds.

>In 2017 the Federal government funded $174.8 million in cancer research through its NHMRC program, however this represents only 13-15% of requests made from Australian cancer researchers in that same year.

Tour de Cure aims to keep Australians busily engaged in cancer research and hopes to reach its goal of $60 million by 2020. “We couldn’t do it without the continued support from our corporate partners and donations by everyday Australians. We’ll only end cancer by working together to fund much needed research. And that’s something we can all come together to support,”

Registrations are now open, and riders are encouraged to register as soon as possible with limited spaces available. To find our more and to register go to

What:             Life Ride

Where:           Margaret River, Western Australia

When:            Sunday 24 to Tuesday 26 November 2019

Why:             Cycle 450km over three days through the spectacular beaches, magnificent forests and incredible wineries in the Margaret River region, knowing every kilometer cycled takes us closer towards beating blood cancer.

About Tour de Cure:

We cover ground to cure cancer. Through our inspirational, challenging and fun cycling tours and events, we fund the world-class cancer projects that will have the biggest impact.

Since 2007, we’ve raised more than $45 million, we’ve funded 322 cancer projects, we’ve achieved 25 significant cancer breakthroughs, and we’ve helped to raise awareness about cancer prevention to more than 110,000 school children across Australia.

New Australian facilities announced for break-through CAR-T therapy and other immunotherapy clinical trials

New Australian facilities announced for break-through CAR-T therapy and other immunotherapy clinical trials

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

The Leukaemia Foundation welcomes the federal government $80 million investment to establish the Peter MacCallum Centre as a new base for Car-T Cell therapy and other immunotherapy clinical trials in Australia.

The funding package would help to build 2,600 square met facilities to manufacture commercial CAR-T therapy, proving capacity and capability for more than 200 patients, who would have previously had to travel to the United States and pay around $500,000 to access the treatment.

CAR-T cell therapy involves harvesting a patient’s T-cells, a type of immune cell, and genetically engineering them to attack cancerous cells and destroy them. The cells are then reintroduced into the body’s blood stream, where they search for, and kill cancerous B-cells.

The Leukaemia Foundation recognises CAR-T Cell therapy as a potential game changer in the treatment of patients with aggressive leukaemia and lymphoma.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt told Australians that the funding was part of next week’s Budget announcement, which would deliver $496 million in health funding in Victoria alone.

Leukaemia Foundation CEO Bill Petch said the funding would ensure Australians could access the game changing CAR-T Cell immunotherapy in their own country.

“Access to the world leading CAR-T Cell therapy will give very sick Australians battling blood cancer access to this treatment, which would have previously been out of reach for most Australians,” Mr Petch said.

“The Leukaemia Foundation’s priority is to ensure Australians living with blood cancer will have equal access to CAR-T Cell therapy, whether they live in a metropolitan city or rural town, anywhere in Australia,“ he added.

“We continue to be strong advocates for CAR-T Cell therapy which has shown promising results for Australians living with blood cancers like relapsed or refractory diffuse large B cell Lymphomas, and Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia – Australia’s most common childhood cancer killer,” Mr Petch said.

Results in previous clinical trials in children and young adults with relapsed or refractory ALL show an 82 per cent remission rate within three months, and a 62 per cent relapse-free survival after two years of the treatment.

While for some patients, CAR-T therapy may lead to a cure, other patients may relapse meaning the therapy will then be used as the mechanism to lead to remission to enable a stem cell transplant as the next line treatment option.

“Immunotherapies and targeted treatments like CAR-T Cell therapy are the new face of treatment for blood cancers. Any support to fast track these treatments to enable increased access to people living with these blood cancers will change the face of blood cancer treatments in this country.”

We look forward to the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) finalising its assessment of the current CAR-T so it can become available through the public health system soon.” Mr Petch said.

For further information please visit or contact your local Blood Cancer Support Coordinator on 1800 620 420.

Treatment for cutaneous T-cell lymphomas to be subsidised through broadened PBS listing

Treatment for cutaneous T-cell lymphomas to be subsidised through broadened PBS listing

The Leukaemia Foundation welcomes the Federal Government’s announcement that the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) listing of brentuximab vedotin (Adcetris®) will be broadened to include treatment of cutaneous T-cell lymphomas (CTCL) from 1 April 2019.

CTCL is a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that directly attacks the body’s T-cells, a type of white blood cell. CTCL is a general term for T-cell lymphomas that involve the skin including the two most common types of CTCL, mycosis fungoides and Sézary syndrome, but CTCL can also involve the lymph nodes, blood and other internal organs. It is a rare condition affecting around 150 to 200 Australians each year, usually affecting people aged 40-60 years.

Treatment for CTCL involves either skin-directed therapies such as topical steroids and radiation therapy or systemic therapies including photopheresis, chemotherapy and stem cell transplants.

Adcetris® is an immunotherapy and chemotherapy combined into one medicine that targets and kills cancerous growths of T-cells.

Leukaemia Foundation CEO Bill Petch described the broadening of the PBS listing as a positive step for Australians living with CTCL.

“This announcement means more Australians affected by CTCL will have affordable access to the treatment they need to improve their quality of life,” he said.

“Without a PBS listing many people living with CTCL would simply not be able to afford this medicine.

“The Leukaemia Foundation’s priority is to ensure that all Australians living with blood cancer have access to the best therapies and treatments available.

“We want to ensure that all Australians living with a blood cancer have access to a wider range of treatment options, which will improve time spent in remission, resulting in a better quality of life and ultimately surviving their disease.”

Leukaemia Foundation supports Australian women #BalanceForBetter

Leukaemia Foundation supports Australian women #BalanceForBetter

The Leukaemia Foundation is proud to support International Women’s Day, a day to acknowledge and celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of all women across the globe.

This year, the Leukaemia Foundation is thrilled to recognise two innovative Australian Clinical and Science PhD female investigators, whose work is at the forefront of next generation medical break-throughs in precision medicines and understanding blood cancer biology.

The female investigators are part of the latest round of funding through the Leukaemia Foundation and the Haematology Society of Australia and New Zealand (HSANZ) PhD Scholarship Programs commencing in 2019. For more information, please see below or visit our PhD Scholarships page.



Researcher: Dr Wei Jiang, Haematologist – Westmead Cellular Therapies Group, Sydney.

Disease: acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) and lymphoma.

Research Project Overview: Dr Wei Jiang will be conducting two trials to establish the clinical safety and efficacy of T-cell immunotherapies for infection and malignancy; and the detailed functional, phenotypic and molecular changes in patients’ blood post T-cell therapy. The research team will conduct a clinical trial of autologous CD19 chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cells generated using the PiggyBac system for relapsed or refractory B-cell malignancies such as acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) and lymphoma. This is revolutionary research, as CAR T-cells can be generated with this technology for a fraction of the cost of those produced using viral vector, making CAR T-cells more affordable to patients. This research aims to establish the safety and efficacy of PiggyBac CAR19 T-cells in a cohort of 20 patients. This research will also examine into pathogen-specific T-cells for therapy resistant viral infections after an allogenic haemopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT), which can lead to significant morbidity and mortality. Dr Jiang and team will run a Phase lll study assessing the safety and efficacy of administering banked 3rd party donor derived infection-specific T-cells to patients with resistant viral infections such as cytomegalovirus (CMV), Epstein-Barr virus (EBV or adenovirus).


Researcher: Elizabeth Lieschke, Scientist – Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Melbourne, Victoria.

Disease: Blood cancer.

Research Project Overview: Ms Lieschke’s research investigates the mechanism by which tumour suppressor gene, Tp53, prevents the development of leukaemia, lymphoma and other cancers; and the processes by which activation of Tp53 kills malignant cells. The study aims to understand why some blood cancer cells die, whilst other cancer cells undergo cell cycle arrest/cell senescence and are therefore more likely to relapse following cancer therapy. Ms Lieschke and team hopes to identify biomarkers that will enable the team to predict the nature of the response of cancer cells to drugs that activate Tp53 and leading to therapies that will be more personalised and targeted. Mutations in Tp53 occur frequently in blood cancers that relapse following therapy and for these patients, the prognosis is extremely poor. A deeper understanding of the impact of mutations in Tp53 on the expression of critical genes involved in tumour suppression will inform the design of novel therapeutics that could act downstream of Tp53, and efficiently kill mutant Tp53 expressing blood cancers. The team believes such therapies are desperately needed because they would improve the prognosis for blood cancer patients.

Leukaemia Foundation supports better access to clinical trials for all Australians

Leukaemia Foundation supports better access to clinical trials for all Australians

The Leukaemia Foundation says recent commitments from each major political party to support better access to clinical cancer trials are a pivotal step toward improving outcomes for Australians living with blood cancers.

The Leukaemia Foundation has welcomed the latest $100 million commitment from the Federal Government to provide rural, regional and remote Australians with better access to clinical cancer trials.

Leukaemia Foundation CEO Bill Petch said the Leukaemia Foundation already recognised there were inequalities in treatment access and survival outcomes for people with blood cancer, depending on where they lived in Australia.

“The significant difference in treatment access is not good enough and the Leukaemia Foundation is committed to working with the incoming government and our partners to move this conversation forward and ensure equal access and improved treatment outcomes for all Australians.”

The weekend announcement followed commitments from both major parties last week to support blood cancer initiatives. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten announced a $20 million commitment for a Right to Trial program and the establishment of a Ministerial Advisory Board, while Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt committed to establishing a Blood Cancer Taskforce and Action Plan.

“This is a clear indication that providing access to the latest clinical trials and supporting an advisory board or taskforce to manage the needs of Australians living with blood cancers is a priority for both sides of government,” Mr Petch said.

Currently, close to 13,000 Australians are diagnosed with a blood cancer like leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma every year [1], however recent analysis showed the number would increase to around 17,000 people [2] by 2025. This is close to 50 Australians projected to be newly diagnosed, every day, by 2025 – or two people every hour.

“The recent announcements ensure the needs of Australians living with blood cancers are firmly on the national agenda.”


– ENDS –


Hair recycling partnership shaving environment while tackling blood cancer

Hair recycling partnership shaving environment while tackling blood cancer

Social enterprise Sustainable Salons is once again throwing its support behind the Leukaemia Foundation’s World’s Greatest Shave by recycling hundreds of kilograms of hair to be donated for wigs and environmental hair booms thanks to Australia’s brave shavers.

For the second year running, Sustainable Salons are uniting with the 20,000 Australians taking part in the much-loved campaign to help beat blood cancers like leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma by collecting hair through hundreds of salons and events nationwide.

Ponytails from hair longer than 20 centimetres will be collected up to be made into wigs for people who’ve lost their hair due to cancer treatment, with this year’s campaign anticipated to collect enough hair to make around 250 wigs.

Shorter hair will be entirely repurposed, with hair clippings gathered and stuffed into sausage-like stockings to create floating hair booms deployed to clean up oil spills along Australia’s coastline.

Research is now underway to test the environmental and commercial viability of the hair booms, with results finding the hair-based booms have a higher capacity and efficiency for oil absorption than booms made from other materials, with their reusability and potential to be composted also making them a more sustainable option. The findings have fueled hope for the boom to become a commercially-available product used for spills both at sea and on land.

More than 100,000 Australians are currently living with blood cancers and another 35 Australians are diagnosed every day. Sadly, an Australian will lose their life to the disease every 41 minutes.

Leukaemia Foundation CEO Bill Petch said the hair recycling initiative ensured all extraordinary Aussies who shave or cut their hair in participating salons were not only helping people affected by blood cancer, but also reducing our environmental impact.

“It’s incredible to think your hair could end up floating on the Great Barrier Reef blocking an oil spill or made into a wig to help those who haven’t lost their hair by choice,” Mr Petch said.

“It’s a win for Aussies and a win for the environment!”

Sustainable Salons Australia Co-Founder Paul Frasca said: “Hair is such a powerful resource. Not only does it have amazing repurposing opportunities, but it’s unlimited! In a world where our natural resources are in steady decline, why are we dumping this valuable commodity in landfill?

“We’re on a mission to reverse this, and that’s why we’re hugely excited to be partnering with World’s Greatest Shave,” he said.

Sustainable Salons will be collecting hair through public shave events and through their hundreds of member salons throughout Australia, as well as welcoming individual shavers to mail-in their ponytails for repurposing. Empty cans of coloured hairspray used in Sustainable Salons hair salons will also be diverted away from landfill and back into recycled resources.

Hairdressers from the Sustainable Salons network will also be jumping behind the cause outside the salon by volunteering to snip, shave and spray at World’s Greatest Shave events happening in capital cities, collecting hair for donation as they go.

More than 56kg of hair was collected through Sustainable Salons’ partnership with World’s Greatest Shave during last year’s event, and a total 4500 ponytails of hair have been donated through the hair recycling initiative in the past year.

Sustainable Salons ANZ is a comprehensive resource recovery service that collects up to 95% of waste from hair salons, including hair, metals and chemicals. It is Australia’s number one collector and donor of ponytails for wigs, and all recycling proceeds are donated to charitable organisations.

For more information on World’s Greatest Shave, or to sign up to shave or sponsor visit or phone 1800 500 088 today.