Another win in scorecard against blood cancer

24 July 2019

A new era of personalised treatment is on the horizon for patients diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, scoring another huge win in the fight against blood cancer.

Scientists at The University of Queensland will design a new genetic score card to assess the best treatment pathway for follicular lymphoma patients.

Mater Research Institute – UQ Director Professor Maher Gandhi said the score would allow clinicians to determine the best treatment therapies for patients.

“Once established, the score will enable clinicians to determine if their patient is better suited to receive conventional or novel targeted therapies based on risk classification,” Professor Gandhi said.

“This will boost the 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, improve equity of access to new treatment approaches, and rationalise their use.

There has been a steady and unexplained increase in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma over the past 25 years, with follicular lymphoma representing 23 to 30 per cent of all diagnosed cases.

Despite the rate of some other forms of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma plateauing over the past five years, rates of follicular lymphoma have continued to rise.

The research set to tackle the growing problem will be named the Leukaemia Foundation Follicular Lymphoma Prognostic Score in honour of the financial contribution made by the charity.  

"Without the Leukaemia Foundation's support, work like this to improve lymphoma outcomes could not be done,” Professor 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.

Development of the scoring model will expand on Professor Gandhi’s ongoing diagnostic lymphoma project to determine the genetic differences between early and advanced-stage follicular lymphoma, and the differences in the make-up of the immune response at the different stages.

The National Health and Medical Research Council have funded two stages of the research project. The Leukaemia Foundation has provided $200,000 in funding to support the third.

Media: Faculty of Medicine Communications,, +61 7 3365 5118, +61 436 368 746.