New Test Tells Which Patients Will Respond to Lymphoma Treatment

Test may help clinicians identify the best course of therapy for patients with Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma.

Test may help clinicians identify the best course of therapy for patients with Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma.

A new tool developed by University of Queensland researchers in Australia may help aid in the fight against cancer. The tool comes in the form of a first-of-its-kind test that could direct treatment choices for patients with some forms of blood cancer.

The test, developed by UQ Diamantina Institute’s Professor Maher Gandhi, can predict how patients with some forms of blood cancer will react to specific treatments. Gandhi said that the results from a landmark study regarding the tool would help clinicians identify the best course of action for patients with Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma (DLBCL).

Leukemia Foundation Queensland CEO Bill Petch said the test could help patients access newer treatments in the future.

“This isn’t just another test. It’s a game changer,” Petch said. “Professor Gandhi’s discovery will mean patients get access to the best treatment for them, first time, every time. It will significantly reduce relapse rates and have a significant impact on how drugs are funded and delivered into the health care system. The implications for this country’s health economics are enormous but, most importantly, patients will get access to the best treatments more quickly. If this test can then translate to other medicines and blood cancers, it could open the door to new drugs from overseas by shedding more light on their potential here in Australia.”

This type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the sixth most common form of cancer, with up to 2000 Australians diagnosed each year. Researchers are in the process of obtaining a provisional patent for the test and are working with commercial partners to further develop the technology.

“It can be fast growing and aggressive, so early diagnosis is vital, as is swift treatment,” Gandhi said. “Fortunately, the majority of cases respond very well to the current first line treatment, which is a combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy. However, some patients do not respond, and for these people the prognosis is poor.

The test will allow clinicians like myself to determine which patients are unlikely to respond well to standard treatment, thus avoiding ineffective and unnecessary chemotherapy and prompting consideration of other treatment options.”