Cancer trial will be a life-saver

Revolutionary research: Dr Ken Micklethwaite will lead the trial.

Revolutionary research: Dr Ken Micklethwaite will lead the trial.

An Australian-first clinical trial will bring hope to leukaemia and lymphoma patients.

Researchers and clinicians from Westmead Institute for Medical Research and Westmead Hospital recently received approval to proceed with the trial. It will use a locally designed gene-altering treatment, which enables genetically engineered immune cells to attack tumors.

“Patients at Westmead will have access to this therapy, which at the moment, is only available in the US at the cost of at least $500,000, beyond the capabilities of most Australians,” lead researcher Dr Ken Micklethwaite said. “It’s different to standard chemotherapy. There’s been a lot of hard work from scientists, doctors and others in the team to get to this point. The hope is that patients will only need one infusion or up to three, depending on the treatment response.”

The first phase will involve 20 bone marrow transplant patients over two years.

“We hope it will be the first of a series of trials,” Dr Micklethwaite said. “We’ve already got a few patients who are potential participants but hope to treat a broader range of patients down the track.”

The trial is expected to start this month.

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