Posted 21 June 2023

Vic Gov’t funding to help halt the progression of blood cancer
Professor Louise Purton

A cross-institutional team led by Professor Louise Purton has been awarded Victorian Government funding to develop a new mRNA-based treatment for a blood cell cancer.

The type of blood cell cancer, called myelodysplastic syndromes, is a largely incurable cancer with few treatment options. Professor Purton’s team has, however, identified a specific protein that could hold the answer.

“Blood cell cancers have different genetic causes but we have discovered that a very specific protein, which is increased in approximately 50% of patients with myelodysplastic syndromes, could be targeted to halt the progression of the cancer,” said Prof Purton.

“We’re aiming to use mRNA to, essentially, switch off the cancer-causing cells. Our goal is to reduce the amount of cancer cells or even completely cure the patients.”

“The same protein is increased in a number of other cancer types. The implications of this research could mean new treatments not only for this blood cell cancer but also other types of cancer such as breast or prostate cancer,” she said.

Prof Purton’s innovative research builds on her decades of pioneering work on blood cells. Her project is being run in collaboration with Monash University and has received $100,000 from the Victorian Government’s mRNA Research Acceleration Fund.