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Researchers at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne believe a new combination therapy for mantle cell lymphoma could lead to a cure in almost 100 per cent of cases.

A story in the Sydney Morning Herald recently reported Australian researchers were closing in on a cure for the disease which was considered a “death sentence” as little as three years ago.

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre Professor Sarah-Jane Dawson said dozens of people living with mantle cell lymphoma given the new combination drug treatment had experienced complete remission in 70 per cent of cases.

The remaining 30 per cent were then identified as having a unique DNA mutation that allowed the production of a protein resistant to the treatment.

Scientists now believe they have discovered adding another drug to the combination therapy would mean these resistant cells were eradicated. A human trial will begin next year (2019) and if successful the discovery could mean the disease could be eliminated in almost 100 per cent of cases.

Leukaemia Foundation CEO Bill Petch said targeted therapy like this was innovating the blood cancer treatment landscape.

“It’s an amazing step forward – we hope to see more stories like this in the near future,” Mr Bill Petch said.

“The progress in this field of medicine for the treatment of blood cancer is truly groundbreaking.”

The Leukaemia Foundation has been funding blood cancer research since 2002 supporting Australian research and researchers with more than $47 million in funding.

“We know targeted therapy, precision medicines and immunotherapies are leading the way and we are committed to supporting the innovative research that will lead us  to a future where no Australian will die from blood cancer.”

Mantle cell lymphoma is a relatively uncommon type of lymphoma, accounting for approximately 5% to 10% of all non-Hodgkin lymphomas.

The average age at diagnosis of mantle cell lymphoma is 60-65 years. It is two to three times more common in men than in women.

About 300 Australians are diagnosed with the disease each year.