Biomarkers for Lymphoma

Current issues in lymphoma management include: delays in diagnosis; deciding the appropriate therapeutic strategy; longitudinal monitoring of response and for relapsed disease; and appropriate use of resources. Lymphoma biomarkers can address all these issues, and offer the potential for personalised lymphoma medicine. Therefore, the need for simple commercial lymphoma blood or tissue biomarker tests is high. 

Head Researcher Professor Maher Gandhi
Team Members

Qingyan Cui
Frank Vari
Kimberley Jones
Colm Keane
Clare Gould
Marina Mathew
Santiyagu Savarimuthu Francis
Jay Gunawardana
Emad Abro
Mohamed Shanavas
Karolina Bednarska
Gayathri Thillaiyampalam
Thanh Hoang Tai Mai
Josh Tobin

Body Part Blood
Equipment Used nanoStringnCounter
Process Used Investigated biomarker quantification using the new technology
Research Areas Genomics
Disease Cancer, Lymphoma
Commercial Partnerships In talks 
Institutions UQDI, Leukaemia Foundation, PA Hospital

Professor Maher Gandhi’s group has an international reputation in this field, and has been particularly active since moving to the TRI, where the close proximity to the Princess Alexandra Hospital has enabled ready access to patient samples. This includes back-to-back manuscripts relating to circulating cell-free biomarkers in Hodgkin Lymphoma (Kimberley Jones et. al. Clinical Cancer Research 2013 and 2014). The latter remains the only study on the prognostic and longitudinal disease monitoring abilities of circulating cell-free microRNA published world-wide. The team has generated additional data in other lymphoma sub-types, particularly Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma, which is the commonest lymphoma sub-type, and which in part was an Oral Presentation (top 5%) at the 2014 American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago.

Subsequently, Dr Colm Keane won the prestigious Princess Alexandra Hospital Young Clinician Award and ASCO Young Investigators Award in August for his work on tissue based biomarkers in aggressive lymphoma.

Most recently, in a German-Brisbane collaboration, the laboratory has published the biomarker characteristics of a particular sub-type of transplant related lymphomas that arises in the central nervous system and associated with exceptionally high mortality. This is the largest series world-wide, and was published in the top-ranking transplantation journal (S. Fink et al., American Journal of Transplantation, 2014). This sub-type of lymphoma is of particular relevance at the Princess Alexandra, which serves as the Queensland tertiary centre for liver and kidney transplantation.

Translational Research - Milestone T1

A current project is to validate newly identified biomarkers in a large prospective UK-Australian Hodgkin lymphoma cohort. This will be critical for the acceptance and uptake of the biomarkers within the clinical arena. Collectively, the biomarker data are contained in an international patent (July 2014, Gandhi/Keane/Jones).

The overarching aim is to perform the ‘early to market’ steps required to enhance the commercial viability of the intellectual property, so that the patent can be licensed to a biomolecular clinical diagnostics company in the near future. Talks are ongoing.

The team are currently investigating biomarker quantification using a new technology that they have brought to the TRI (via successful ACRF and UQMIE/NHMRC grants) that utilises state-of-the-art digital hybridisation (the nanoString nCounter). If successful, this will enable high-throughput assays that can be easily applied to the diagnostic laboratory.

> For commercial partnership opportunities, please contact Maher Khaled [email protected] at UQ'S COMMERCIAL PARTNER, UNIQUEST

Professor Maher Gandhi