World-first blood test could provide less invasive and more effective treatments for blood cancer

Associate Professor Sarah-Jane Dawson and Professor Mark Dawson

A world-first “liquid biopsy” could soon offer you direct access to a simple blood test to help in the monitoring and management of your blood cancer treatment.

The blood test promises a new era of less invasive, more precise and effective management of your blood cancer, in place of painful bone marrow or lymph node biopsies. It was developed by Associate Professor Sarah-Jane Dawson and Professor Mark Dawson (pictured above) at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne.

Unlike traditional biopsies, the test can be used at any time during your treatment, with rapid adjustments easily made should a relapse occur or if there is failure to respond to a particular therapy.

Helping to pioneer the development Assoc. Professor Sarah-Jane Dawson said this world-first test for blood cancers will help to rapidly advance the availability of new precision medicines and targeted therapies as they are developed.

“Not only does this new test promise clinicians and patients a more timely and accurate understanding of whether a cancer treatment is working, it gives scientists the ability to quickly and effectively evaluate how clinical trial patients are responding to new life-saving therapies,” she said.

Professor Mark Dawson said the liquid biopsy also addresses one of the major limitations of the current approach to managing blood cancers.

“This test for blood cancer provides a much more comprehensive picture of how a patient is responding to their treatment.”

Prof. Dawson acknowledged that generous community support has driven the basic research that ultimately culminates in these discoveries.

“As clinicians we see every day the adversity caused by cancer,” said Prof. Dawson. “It’s a testament to how important the task at hand is that generous supporters use their personal experiences as inspiration to fund cancer research.”

“This development is an example of what our team has been able to achieve and I assure you that there is much more to come,” said Prof. Dawson.

The emergence of liquid biopsies as precision cancer trackers could significantly reduce the amount of time people spend in hospital and reduce overall costs to our health system.

The blood tests will be available within Australia from July and are expected to become a standard clinical tool in the near future.