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Dr Meaghan Wall


Chief investigator:  Dr Meaghan Wall
Institute:                   St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne
Project title:              Developing a clinical tool to identify MDS patients who
   will benefit from treatment with azacitidine
Disease focus:          Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS)
Funding:                    $100,000
Funding period:        2014

Project summary 

Dr Meaghan Wall from St Vincent’s Hospital is leading this research project to develop a prognostic test for myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). The test will allow clinicians to accurately assess those patients most likely to benefit from treatment with the drug, azacitidine.

Azacitidine is the only available treatment for MDS. However, for every 100 MDS patients, only between 25 and 30 will respond to the drug.

Dr Wall and her team are scanning MDS cells from 40 patients for genetic abnormalities associated with response to azacitidine. The researchers are using a sensitive assay developed in-house to find suitable gene mutations that can serve as ‘biomarkers’ for the prognostic test.

“We already know that acquired genetic abnormalities in myelodysplastic syndromes are the strongest predictor of clinical outcomes, such as survival and transformation to leukaemia,” said Dr Wall.

“So, by comprehensively studying the relationship between gene changes in these blood diseases and the response to therapy, we can create a simple tool to predict whether an individual is likely to benefit from treatment with azacitidine.

“In the long-term, this tool has the potential to be used by clinicians to give people a more accurate way to estimate their chances of responding to azacitidine and help them make treatment decisions.”