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Dr Vajiranee Malalasekera: Investigating mechanisms of disease development and new therapies in AML with high-risk genetic alternations

Dr Vajiranee Malalasekera, WEHI Melbourne

Over the last 15 years, there have been significant advances in the understanding of the genetic basis of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). Clinicians are better able to assign patients to a risk category and tailor their treatment accordingly. However, there are some subgroups of AML with high-risk genetic changes where the disease is poorly understood, and newer, more effective therapies are needed.

AML is a highly aggressive blood cancer which poor survival (25% five-year survival rate).  Recent research had identified mutations in 2 genes SRSF2 and ASXL1  are associated with an exceptionally poor prognosis in AML patients. Dr Vajiranee Malalasekera’s research aims to look for changes in the genetic and cellular level to explain the aggressive AML associated with these mutations.  This research will also test the effectiveness of a new class of drug known as a USP7 inhibitor in combination with venetoclax.

About Rani

Dr Vajiranee (Rani) Malalasekera is a paediatric oncologist who is currently undertaking a translational PhD investigating high-risk AML and novel targeted therapies within the Wei Laboratory at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research. Dr Malalasekera completed her medical degree at The University of Melbourne in 2010 and completed her Paediatric Oncology training at The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH), Melbourne. She has a specific interest in haematological malignancies and bone marrow transplantation, and currently works also at the Children’s Cancer Centre at RCH as a consultant oncologist in the leukaemia and bone marrow transplant team.

PhD scholarships are co-funded by the Leukaemia Foundation and the Haematology Society of Australia and New Zealand (HSANZ).

Last updated on January 30th, 2023

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