A clinical trial that aims to match blood cancer sufferers with more precise treatments to help them beat the deadly disease will now be offered to West Australians.
Currently, patients in WA living with relapsed or refractory (resistant to treatment) high-grade lymphomas and acute leukaemias have very few treatment options, with most given the same standard course of treatment.
The Blood Cancer Genomics Trial – Molecular Screening and Therapeutics in Leukaemia and Lymphoma aims to change that by using genomic profiling to identify a treatment — even one that is not generally offered to those suffering from the disease.
The $1.8m pilot program has been available in Queensland and South Australia for the past year, and thanks to an additional $2.7m injection through the Australian Government’s Medical Research Future Fund, it will now be offered to 240 more patients including in WA.
One West Australian who has welcomed the news is mining magnate Tim Goyder.
The Chalice Mining and Liontown Resources chairman, whose fundraising efforts with the Leukaemia Foundation helped facilitate the expansion of the trial to WA, was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia more than two decades ago.
And while he has recovered from the disease, he said he remained passionate about ensuring all Western Australians had access to the latest treatments.
“As someone who has lived with and survived blood cancer, I think it’s incredibly positive to see this potentially life-changing research now being undertaken here in Perth,” he said. “I am hopeful this research can lead to better outcomes and survival rates for people living with blood cancer.”
The program will be headed in WA by Dr Carolyn Grove who is the Clinical and Laboratory Haematologist at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Linear Clinical Research and PathWest.
She said ongoing research had already increased the understanding of the genetic complexity of blood cancers and had paved the way for new precision medicine-based therapies.
“This clinical trial harnesses the power of genomic profiling and will provide more Western Australian patients with access to new targeted treatment for their blood cancer,” she added.
Leukaemia Foundation chief executive Chris Tanti said if Australia had any hope of reducing blood cancer mortality it had to “shift” focus away from treating blood cancer subtypes with a “one size fits all approach” and move towards targeted therapies.
According to the foundation, patients on clinical trials are shown to have improved outcomes but less than 20 per cent of Australians living with blood cancer have had the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial. And only one in five Australians with blood cancer who want to enrol in a clinical trial have access to one.
“Genomic testing illuminates the best treatment path for each individual patient, and the potential for delivering precision medicine tailored to them may result in improved survival, fewer side effects than some traditional treatment options, less time spent in treatment and greater quality of life,” he said.
Professor David Joske, Clinical Haematologist at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Founder and CEO of Solaris Cancer Care and Blood Cancer Taskforce, said the study was a vital step to ensure blood cancer treatments in WA remained at the cutting edge of new technologies and the understanding of cancer.