Over the past ten years, exciting discoveries in immunotherapy are offering some patients alternative treatments to chemotherapy and radiation.
Last year we introduced you to Associate Professor Philip Darcy and Dr Paul Beavis who are Cancer Council-funded researchers at the forefront of this ground-breaking field.
The team at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre have been looking at fighting cancer by using an army of immune cells that help fight infection (CAR T cells). These are taken from a patient, modified to become cancer killers, then transplanted back into the patient.
The technique has proven successful in certain types of blood cancer, including acute myeloid leukaemia, which is very difficult to treat. As a result, more clinical trials have now been established both in Australia and overseas to test the approach.
“It’s been a real wow moment,” said Associate Professor Darcy.
“My highlight has been seeing the approach trialled in patients. When I see the patients I’ve worked with, I remember what my research really means and the impact it has on individuals.”
“My wife was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 and I have had many family members pass away from cancer. Seeing all my years of laboratory work actually being able to help a patient has been amazing.”
Darcy says Cancer Council’s funding gave him the opportunity to explore new ideas and build the evidence to turn his ideas into something meaningful for patients.
“Cancer Council has been with us every step of the way, from early days when I was a young researcher, through to today,” he explained.
“Because of you we can continue to make exciting discoveries in the laboratory that lead to better cancer treatments.”
Cancer Council can only fund this work thanks to the support of amazing people like you.