Saving lives from lymphoma
Dr Karthik Nath has been awarded a Leukaemia Foundation and Haematology Society of Australia and New Zealand (HSANZ) PhD grant to better understand and improve treatments for follicular lymphoma (FL).
Dr Nath, a haematology advanced trainee at the Mater Research (Brisbane), will be working under the supervision of Professor Maher Gandhi to investigate why 20% of patients with FL have early disease progression.
Dr Nath’s research will focus on identifying those patients who are more prone to early relapse, and developing alternative treatment options to improve their chances of survival.
“Currently there is no definitive way to identify these patients at initial presentation,” said Dr Nath.
“The central tenet of my research with Prof. Gandhi is to expand upon existing prognostic models in FL by integrating how one’s immune system reacts and responds to the lymphoma.
“We also hope to incorporate the genetic mutations within the lymphoma into the development of a new prognostic scoring system.”
New follicular lymphoma treatments
Dr Nath hopes to uncover something new that will be useful for clinicians and have a real impact on the investigation and management of everyone with FL.
“We hope our findings will not only be shared within the academic scientific community, but also incorporated into routine practice worldwide,” said Dr Nath.
He said funding was the biggest research hurdle for any clinician-researcher and he counts himself fortunate to be a 2018 PhD scholarship recipient.
“Without this grant support, it would have been challenging to pursue my research ambitions. I hope we can repay the contribution through the benefits we discover in our research.”
Dr Nath is well-placed to embark on the project with past experience in malignant haematology observational studies, studying the incidence and prevalence of haematological cancers, and research into autologous stem cell transplantation.
“Haematologists are ideally placed to take advantage of and contribute to rapid advances in both basic scientific and translational research within the field,” he said.
“I can see a patient in the clinic, review and report on their bone marrow biopsy in the lab, and subsequently come back to the patient with the results and discuss a management plan.
“The laboratory training also provides us with a much deeper understanding of the illnesses we manage in the clinical setting.”
Dr Nath is itching to get going on the project and make a valuable contribution to the field.
“We are currently in the process of collecting samples and have begun some preliminary analysis in the lab,” said Dr Nath.
“It will be extremely satisfying to bring fresh insights and answer some of the core questions about FL.
“It is exciting to be part of this diverse and rapidly expanding field.”
When he’s not working on improving the lives of patients with FL, Dr Nath enjoys travelling and keeping active.
“I recently got into running and find it a great way to keep fit, keep my mind clear, see nature, and even catch up with friends,” said Dr Nath.