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Leukaemia Foundation supports WEHI’s new laboratory model to test anti-cancer drugs

A new model which mimics the complexity of human cancers to allow for more accurate testing of anti-cancer drugs has been developed by leading Australian researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI) in Melbourne.

Led by PhD students Ms Margs Brennan and Dr Gemma Kelly – both Leukaemia Foundation grant recipients – and Associate Professor Marco Herold, the advanced laboratory model will allow the WEHI team to discover the safest and most effective ways to use the promising drugs called MCL-1 inhibitors.

MCL-1 is a protein essential for the sustained growth of many blood cancers, including lymphoma, as well as some solid tumours including breast cancer and melanoma. The protein allows cancer cells to evade the process that normally removes damaged or unwanted cells from the body.

According to Dr Kelly, the team will look at how the new laboratory model can accurately evaluate MCL-1 inhibitors. This involves identifying the types of cancers sensitive to MCL-1 and the right patient profiles. The team will then determine which combination treatments will be most effective and identify the best dosing regimens.

A Leukaemia Foundation spokesperson said: “This is extraordinary news and I congratulate the WEHI team on this new study. I am especially proud to hear that our grant recipients Ms Brennan and Dr Kelly are instrumental in the development of this research project. I wish them the very best and will closely follow the status of this exciting advance.”

As Australia’s leading blood cancer organisation, the Leukaemia Foundation, through its national research program, has had a long history of supporting research into the development of diagnostics and precision medicines, which have been identified as core research priorities for the organisation.

“Advancements in diagnostics, through new developments such as WEHI’s latest research project, are evolving precision medicine to shape not only treatment but also the prediction of treatment success, and ultimately prevention, through early detection. We are hopeful that the outcome of this study will be promising and as a result, many lives will be saved or improved,” said the spokesperson.

Last updated on July 15th, 2022

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