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Donor Funding: $240,000
Cancer Type: Blood cancers
Cancer Stage: Diagnosis Treatment
Funded in: 2018, 2019, 2020

Dr Kate Vandyke
University of Adelaide

Multiple myeloma (MM) is an incurable haematological cancer that is responsible for an estimated 80,000 deaths each year, worldwide. Even with the best available current therapies, almost all MM patients eventually relapse, with only 15% of patients surviving 10 years from diagnosis.

The development, progression and relapse of MM tumours is critically dependent on the ability of the MM plasma cells (PC) to disseminate to sites throughout the bone marrow (BM).

In particular, previous studies have identified that those patients that have highly “metastatic” MM tumour cells at diagnosis do particularly poorly, leading to rapid disease progression, relapse after treatment and death. Identification of the factor(s) involved in the recirculation and dissemination process in MM is therefore key in the development of therapeutic strategies that will prevent overt relapse in these patients.

My studies are aimed at investigating why some patients do very poorly, surviving less than 2 years, and identifying tailored treatments for this group of patients.

Importantly, my work focuses on the repurposing of existing targeted therapies that have been trialled in other disease settings. This makes translation of the results of these studies to the clinic feasible in the short term, meaning that real improvements in survival outcomes should be rapid for these patients who traditionally have very poor outcomes.