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Ground-breaking lymphoma treatment advanced with genomics research

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The Christine and Bruce Wilson Centre for Lymphoma Genomics has been launched at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and partnered with The University of Melbourne to deliver groundbreaking and innovative advancement for Australian lymphoma patients.

The Centre will establish a team of clinicians, pathologists and scientists dedicated to utilising lymphoma genomics to improve outcomes in patients with lymphoma and related malignancies.

The Centre will aim to provide translational clinical-grade genomic testing for patients with lymphoma and related lymphoid malignancies treated at the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC), in order to influence therapeutic choice and personalise the treatment of patients with lymphoid blood cancers.

Genomics testing involves testing a patient’s blood for critical gene mutations, enabling doctors to create a personalised, targeted treatment for individual patients.

Associate Professor David Westerman, who will lead the research project, says the advancement of genomics will eventually eliminate the need for chemotherapy in treating cancer.

“With this partnership between research, clinical, university and philanthropy, we are now able to fast-track genetic testing to more patients and monitor the effectiveness of treatments,” he said.

“Genomics and personalised medicine is what will aid targeted, less toxic cancer treatments.”

The ground-breaking project was enabled through a generous $5 million donation by Christine and Bruce Wilson, which followed Christine’s personal experience as a patient living with lymphoma for 25 years. They were struck by how genetics testing can save lives, or improve quality of life, for a group of patients who are in dire need of other treatment options.

“I have been fortunate enough to experience the benefits of this cutting-edge technology. My family hopes that our support will make the Centre’s ground-breaking work accessible to all Australians affected,” Christine Wilson said.

Blood cancers are the third leading cause of death by cancer in Australia. Each year more than 12,000 Australians are told they have blood cancer, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Blood cancers like lymphoma often result from spontaneous mutations that occur as the body makes new blood cells, and one reason they can be so difficult to properly diagnose and treat is because so much can go wrong.