New score to help navigate improved treatment for follicular lymphoma patients

Thursday 18 July 2019

More Australians living with follicular lymphoma could benefit from tailored treatment through development of a new clinical scoring model thanks to Mater Research with funding from the Leukaemia Foundation.

Mater Research CEO Professor Maher Gandhi has received funding from the Leukaemia Foundation to design a new genetic, immune and clinical prognostic score to assess the best treatment pathway for follicular lymphoma patients.

As well as CEO, Professor Gandhi is Director of Clinical Research and head of the Blood Cancer Research Group at Mater Research, as well as Director of Mater Research Institute University of Queensland, and a haematologist at the Princess Alexandra Hospital.

Once established, the score will enable clinicians to determine whether their patient is better suited to receive conventional or novel targeted therapies based on a risk classification, boosting chances of tackling the disease and improving patient outcomes. 

The score will also support clinicians to assist patients in making informed decisions regarding their treatment type, and in doing so improve equity of access to new treatment approaches and rationalise their use. Once developed, the score will be named the Leukaemia Foundation Follicular Lymphoma Prognostic Score in recognition of the Leukaemia Foundation's contribution.

Follicular lymphoma is the most common slow moving non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and a major health burden to blood cancer care in Australia. While early stage follicular lymphoma is potentially curable, the disease has very poor outcomes once it reaches an advanced stage.

There has been a steady and unexplained 40 per cent increase in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma over the past 25 years, with follicular lymphoma representing 23-30 per cent of all NHL diagnosed. Despite the rate of some other NHL plateauing over the past five years, rates of follicular lymphoma have continued to rise.

Professor Gandhi said he was honoured to receive the funding from the Leukaemia Foundation.

“This funding will be invaluable in helping to develop the score and ultimately significantly improve patient outcomes,” Prof Gandhi said.

Leukaemia Foundation CEO Bill Petch said the Leukaemia Foundation was proud to support Professor Gandhi’s work.

“We want Australians with blood cancer to enjoy a better quality of life, which is why we have invested $47 million over the past 20 years into innovative research like Professor Gandhi’s to improve the way they are treated,” he said.