26 Jul 2017

Congratulation to Durga Mithraprabu on James & Elsie Borrowman Grant

Dr Durga Mitraprabhu has been awarded
a five-year grant from the James & Elsie
Borrowman Research Trust
Congratulations to Dr Durga Mithraprabu, who has been awarded funding for five years from the James and Elsie Borrowman Research Trust (2017-2021). Dr Mithraprabhu, from the Myeloma Research Group, Australian Centre for Blood Diseases received the grant for her project, "Investigating cell-free DNA as a non-invasive diagnostic modality for myeloma". The project will address the need for newer strategies to enable comprehensive mutational characterisation and therapeutic monitoring of multiple myeloma (MM).

MM is an incurable cancer of the immunoglobulin (antibody producing) white blood cells - the plasma cells. It is increasing in incidence and is the second commonest cause of blood cancer-related deaths in Australia. The diagnosis and monitoring of MM presently relies on sequential bone marrow (BM) biopsies and the quantitation of serum and/or urine biomarkers of disease burden, noting that the latter are uninformative in MM patients with either non-secretory (NS) or oligo-secretory (OS) MM.

This project over the next 5 years will analyse the utility of DNA shed by the MM cells into the blood stream (cell free tumour DNA - ctDNA) to be used as a non-invasive quantitative (tumour burden) and qualitative (characterisation of the tumour genome) biomarker in MM patients focusing on NS-MM and OS-MM patients. This will enable significantly improved diagnostic capabilities via a non-invasive complication-free approach (blood test rather than bone marrow biopsy) providing more comprehensive mutational characterisation of MM (when compared to BM biopsy) thus informing personalised treatment approaches. Moreover, the interrogation of ctDNA will enable the mutational characterisation and identification of gene mutations that are confined to inaccessible tumour sites with exciting implications for our understanding of the biology of MM disease progression and thus providing a platform for future mechanistic studies.

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