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Donor Funding: $306,930
Cancer Type: Blood cancers
Cancer Stage: Diagnosis and treatment
Funded in: 2019, 2020, 2021

Professor Deborah White
The University of Adelaide

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) is the most common childhood cancer and remains the leading cause of non-traumatic death in children. For adolescents and young adults with ALL the therapeutic outcomes are poor. Most older adults will die of their disease.

Genomic analysis has elucidated several new high-risk ALL lesions that may be targetable with rational therapies. This is supported by anecdotal reports of significantly improved outcomes, but to date both druggable target identification and patient access to these therapies is limited.

This is a clear unmet need. Importantly, patients with high risk genomic lesions are currently not recognised at diagnosis and are only screened for genomic lesions when they relapse or fail to respond to chemotherapy; for many patients this is too late. The clinical sequelae is then one of high dose, toxic chemotherapy +/- transplantation, both associated with life-long risk of comorbidities and second malignancy. Newer immune based therapies are emerging, but we currently don’t know which patients will benefit from these approaches.

This Fellowship is based on Precision Medicine, integrating genomics, metagenomics, bioinformatics and functional analyses, to provide diagnostic screening and therapeutic triage paradigms that are readily accessible and importantly, will transform treatment and outcomes for our most vulnerable ALL patients.

My group is ideally placed to bring real change for ALL patients to ensure they receive the right therapeutic approach early.

The aim of this Fellowship is to improve the clinical outcomes for patients with ALL, but the broad paradigms established will be applicable to other cancers.