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Leukaemia Foundation supports myeloma biomarker breakthrough

Research released by QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute today identifying the IL-18 molecule as an important biomarker for myeloma is being hailed an important step by the Leukaemia Foundation.

Myeloma is a blood cancer which affects the body’s plasma cells – the cells that produce antibodies. Myeloma develops when these plasma cells undergo a cancerous change and become myeloma cells, multiplying at an increased rate and taking over the bone marrow.

As a result bones can become weaker and break more easily. Patients also experience anaemia, bone pain, kidney damage, frequent infections and increased bleeding and bruising.

The QIMR study has found the IL-18 molecule supresses the immune system, creating an environment where cancer was more likely to grow, therefore
resulting in poorer survival rates for patients living with the disease.

Our Chief Executive Officer, Bill Petch, says the study, which was supported by a consortium of funders, is testament to a collaborative approach
to research, helping institutes such as QIMR target the most promising and cutting edge discoveries to achieve real outcomes for people living with blood cancer.

“Prioritising research that will achieve tangible outcomes for people living with cancer today is an essential part of the research equation,” Mr Petch said.

“Collaborations like these across the health system, including pharmaceutical companies, Government and cancer authorities, is what will project incredible findings like this into tangible treatment outcomes sooner.”

New and promising direction

Currently myeloma is treated according to the progression of the disease, increasing in its intensity as the disease progresses. There is currently no cure for the 1,800 people in Australia who are diagnosed with myeloma every year; however treatment can be successful in controlling the disease, sometimes for several years.

The findings of Professor Mark Smyth and Dr Kyohei Nakamura of the QIMR Berghofer indicate a new and promising direction for further research into myeloma, which it is hoped in years to come, may help shape a more personalised
approach to the treatment of people living with this type of blood cancer.

The Leukaemia Foundation is the only national charity dedicated to helping those with leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma and related blood disorders survive and then live a better quality of life.

The Leukaemia Foundation invests in blood cancer research through a variety of mechanisms, including a new partnership with Cancer Australia’s Priority-driven Collaborative Cancer Research Scheme.