On Friday 6 April, the Faculty hosted a Myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN) Symposium in the Seminar Room of the J. Robin Warren Library. The event was attended by the Raine Visiting Professor – Professor John Crispino (Northwestern University) – along with scientists, haematologists, patients and associated foundations.
The Symposium came about through Professor Wendy Erber and the Translational Cancer Pathology Laboratory, a medical research group that aims to improve detection of myelofibrosis (the process where bone marrow in MPN cancer patients totally fails as a result of scar tissue forming), understand what causes it, and find suitable drug targets for new therapies.
“We’ve been studying this type of disease for many years and are now pushing the barriers of what is currently known,” said Dr Belinda Guo, a member of the Translational Cancer Pathology Laboratory.
“Our study relies on patient participation and their generous donation of bone marrow and blood samples. We aim to use these precious samples to identify blood-based mechanisms of detecting or predicting myelofibrosis, as well as what causes myelofibrosis,”
“Given the nature of our study, we wanted to make contact with other MPN researchers, MPN representatives, patients and carers, with a view to combine our efforts through collaborative research, furthering MPN education and providing opportunities to learn about current and cutting-edge research.”
“Along with the Raine Medical Research Foundation, we had the pleasure of hosting Professor John Crispino as a 2018 Raine Visiting Professor, who participated and presented at the MPN Symposium,” Dr Guo said.
The morning session was a MPN Research Workshop for researchers, haematologists, students and clinicians. The session was an opportunity to discuss current and future research opportunities, and identify collaborative opportunities. Professor Crispino presented a plenary seminar on the biology behind fibrotic progression and new therapeutic approaches.
The afternoon was a MPN Patient Workshop with the aim of providing educational updates for patients about what is MPN and what are some current and future treatments for MPN.
Epidemiologist Professor Lin Fritschi presented an overview of the patterns and causes of MPN, whilst Professor Wendy Erber provided an overview of how MPN is diagnosed and the bone marrow features that are used by pathologists to distinguish between MPN subtypes. Professor John Crispino then gave an update on current and new treatments for MPN. Mrs Nathalie Cook from MPN Alliance Australia, and a guest of the Faculty, presented on healthy eating and the gut microbiome for MPN patients.
We were also joined by representatives from patient support and advocacy networks who provided updates and details to patients about the different types of support that are offered by each organisation: Anna Nankivell from Cancer Council Western Australia; Jacqui Baverstock and Lara Andresen from Leukaemia Foundation; Ms Sue Taylor from MPN Alliance Australia, as a guest of the Faculty; and Mr Roy Wallace from Ruby Red Foundation.
Consumers found the event beneficial saying, “It was an honour to be part of your symposium and also for inviting us to collaborate in your exciting research as consumer representatives and associate investigators.”
Another commented, “It was really inspiring to hear about the work that’s being done at UWA to try and unravel some of the most compelling MPN mysteries. Who knew that megakaryocytes and humble platelets were so interesting and critical to the disease process?”
Professor Wendy Erber said, “The day was very successful and enjoyed by all. This is a significant event as it’s not common to have a medical symposium with such consumer and community input.”
Myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN) are bone marrow cancers that, like leukaemia, lead to too much blood being made. Up to 1000 patients are diagnosed in Australia each year. MPN can occur at any age, from early childhood to late adulthood. Over time, in around 20% of patients, the bone marrow totally fails as a result of scar tissue forming. This process is called “myelofibrosis” and is a terrible outcome which currently cannot be predicted. We hope to address this critical issue through our research to provide useful information for clinicians and hopefully improve the outcome for patients.
Emily Stone, Marketing Officer: +61 6457 7365