Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Monash Haematology research recognised at Lugano Biennial International Lymphoma Conference

Professor Stephen Opat
Research at Monash Haematology was recognised at the 14th International Conference on Malignant Lymphoma held in Lugano, Switzerland last week, attended by more than 3000 international delegates.

The event is the premier scientific meeting for haematologists, oncologists, radiation oncologists, paediatricians, pathologists and leading researchers involved in the study and treatment of lymphoma.

Monash clinicians and researchers had four abstracts including three oral presentations and one poster.  A landmark chemotherapy-free study in follicular and aggressive B cell lymphoma was one of only three abstracts selected for presentation at the plenary session. The study examined the activity of Tazemetostat, a first-in-class, oral inhibitor of EZH2, an enzyme involved in reading of the DNA code.

“The long strands of DNA in the cells are tightly coiled around proteins called histones. However, DNA needs to be uncoiled to be read by the cell’s machinery. The EZH2 enzyme adds a mark to the histones which stops the DNA from uncoiling. The enzyme can be abnormally activated in several cancers including lymphoma, breast, prostate, melanoma, and bladder cancer. Tazemetostat can inhibit the EZH2 enzyme thus enabling the cells to read the DNA once more”, Professor Opat said.

Responses were seen in 92% of patients with relapsed follicular lymphoma and 29% with relapsed aggressive B cell lymphoma who had an abnormally activated EZH2. The Tazemetostat tablets were extremely well tolerated with few side effects.

Other presentations highlighted the clinical activity of ‘BGB-3111’, a next generation inhibitor of the Bruton Tyrosine Kinase enzyme in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia.

Haematology Research is conducting further studies with these agents in the Monash Health Translation Precinct Clinical Trial Facility.

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