Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, in collaboration with the VCCC alliance and other partners, has been generously awarded $1.5 million to accelerate research into improved treatments for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL).

The funding of $500,000 annually for three years will establish a Centre for CLL Research in Melbourne, and support an integrated clinical and scientific research program to be co-ordinated by Associate Professor Constantine Tam.

The grant builds upon a history of CLL breakthrough discoveries by Melbourne-based researchers including key contributions to the development of two new classes of drugs: BCL2 inhibitors (e.g. ABT-199 known as venetoclax) and BTK inhibitors (e.g. ibrutinib and BGB-3111).

The US-based CLL Global Research Foundation is providing the funding to further accelerate research into these drugs and other new therapies.

“These are truly outstanding drugs and I think they are going to transform our whole approach to CLL,” says CLL Global Research Foundation President Professor Michael Keating.

Prof Keating, from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, says Melbourne’s Parkville biomedical precinct had shown it was a world leader in CLL research and the Foundation was keen to advance this work.

Key project partners will include Peter Mac’s Associate Professor Sarah-Jane Dawson, Professor Mark Dawson, Dr Paul Neeson, Dr Dennis Carney, Professor John Seymour and Associate Professor Ilia Voskoboinik, Royal Melbourne Hospital’s Professor David Ritchie, Dr Joanne Davis and Professor Andrew Roberts, and Baker IDI’s Associate Professor Julie McMullen.

“On behalf of all collaborators I would like to acknowledge the generosity of Prof Keating, and the CLL Global Research Foundation, noting this research program is a further example of the trans-institutional collaboration for which the Parkville biomedical precinct is renowned,” Associate Professor Tam says.

About CLL:

Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia is a type of blood cancer affecting B-lymphocytes - white blood cells - which play an important role in the immune system. These cells live longer than they should and can accumulate in the bone marrow, blood stream and other parts of the body interfering with normal cell production. People with CLL can be more susceptible to anaemia, recurrent infections, and bruising or bleeding easily. Around 30% of people diagnosed with CLL don’t require treatment and survive for many years despite their diagnosis1. Around 1,360 Australians will be diagnosed with CLL in 2016 and, sadly, almost 400 will die from the disease.2

1 http://www.leukaemia.org.au/blood-cancers/leukaemias/chronic-lymphocytic-leukaemia-cll

2 https://canceraustralia.gov.au/affected-cancer/cancer-types/leukaemia/chronic-lymphocytic-leukaemia-statistics

About the VCCC alliance:

The Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC) alliance brings together ten successful Victorian organisations committed to cancer control: Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne Health (including The Royal Melbourne Hospital), The University of Melbourne, The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, The Royal Women’s Hospital, The Royal Children’s Hospital, Western Health, St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, Austin Health and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.  

About Peter Mac:

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre is one of the world’s leading cancer research, education and treatment centres globally and is Australia’s only public hospital solely dedicated to caring for people affected by cancer. We have over 2,500 staff, including more than 580 laboratory and clinical researchers, all focused on providing better treatments, better care and potential cures for cancer.

Contacts:

For more information or to arrange an interview please contact the Peter Mac Communications team on 0417 123 048.