Gene therapy provides new way forward to treat blood diseases

Duncan Purtill leans against a balustrade
Dr Duncan Purtill
September 11, 2020

Innovative ways of dealing with cancers and haemophilia, which focus on genetic reprogramming of cells, are revolutionising treatment for patients with haematology cancers and inherited bleeding disorders.

The Fiona Stanley Hospital haematology team has a very busy clinical trials portfolio with participation in 30 active clinical studies including investigator-initiated, collaborative group and commercially sponsored trials.

Haematologist Dr Duncan Purtill said one of the highlights of their recent research was in the area of genetic modified therapy, known as CAR-T Cell therapy.

“This type of treatment genetically modifies white cells to fight against lymphoma and once injected in to the body the reprogrammed cells have the potential to not only fight the existing cancer but also respond to any new malignant cells,” Dr Purtill said.

“Until recently, long term drug treatment was the predominant method of care for most cancer patients.”

“Hopefully what we start to see with gene therapy is a more effective, persisting and cleaner treatment without the side effects associated with taking cancer drugs.”

Led by eight Clinical Trials Coordinators, the team had risen to the challenge to meet the strict guidelines of various research studies to ensure the treatments could be applied to patients with complex medical problems.

Working closely with PathWest, there has also been extensive collaboration with other hospitals through patient referrals, the Charles Day Tissue Bank and support from the WA Cancer and Palliative Care Network in the form of a Fellowship Grant.

Read more about research conducted across South Metropolitan Health Service in its 2019 Research Report (external PDF 4.1MB).

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