Epworth brings hope to blood cancer patients

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A new clinic has opened as the first step to providing revolutionary life-saving services for blood cancer patients at Victoria’s Epworth HealthCare.

A joint project, the Epworth Centre for Immunotherapies and Snowdome Laboratories will provide innovative treatments and technology as part of the path to offering cellular therapies in Australia.

It was funded by donations to the Epworth Medical and Snowdome foundations.

“We are grateful to the many donors who helped make this world-class facility a reality,” Epworth Medical Foundation’s Executive Director Scott Bulger said.

“Epworth and the Snowdome Foundation share a vision to give hope to every blood cancer patient, and together, we hope to find a cure and change the face of cancer treatment forever.”

Cell therapy is one of the most revolutionary advances in recent medical science, and the new laboratory is a key stage in delivering CAR-T treatments – for which patients are presently often required to go overseas.

“The process of collecting, creating and storing lifesaving CAR-T cells requires a dedicated laboratory equipped with highly-specialised equipment,” said Dr Costas Yannakou, Epworth’s Deputy Medical Director of Molecular Oncology and Cancer Immunology.

“This facility dedicated to cellular therapies will enable Epworth to treat more cancer patients with cutting-edge CAR-T cell therapies and ultimately save more lives,” added Dr Yannakou, also director of the group’s Haematology Clinical Trials Unit.

Blood cancers including lymphoma and leukemia claim more Australian lives each year than breast cancer and melanoma combined.

There are no screening programs available and no way to prevent blood cancer through lifestyle changes. 

“With diagnoses rising, there is an urgent need to seek a greater understanding of blood cancers and find new treatments and cures,” Snowdome Foundation CEO Kirstee Macbeth said.

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