Publish Date: 
Thursday, April 24, 2014 - 09:00

qld breakthrough makes chemo safer

A breakthrough by TRI based, Mater researcher A/Prof Ingrid Winkler could relieve suffering for patients during cancer treatment by better protecting the immune system during chemotherapy.

A/Prof Winkler has discovered how to flick a biological switch that enables the immune system to be better protected during chemotherapy.

A/Prof Winkler said her research at the Translational Research Institute had discovered how to put Haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) to sleep and wake them up again when needed.

 “These HSC cells are important in regenerating immune systems,” A/Prof Winkler said.

“Usually when chemo is finished, a patient has nothing left to fight infection. This is because with the immune system temporarily down, patients become susceptible to bacterial infections.”

 “I've found a way of putting these normal cells back to sleep so they can resist the chemotherapy treatment."

Mater Research CEO Professor John Prins said the work by A/Prof Winkler was a significant breakthrough particularly as about 25,000 Queenslanders are diagnosed with cancer, many of whom will undergo chemotherapy.

 “Because chemotherapy can attack healthy cells as well as cancerous cells, many people require hospitalisation due to side-effects,” Professor Prins said.

“A/Prof Winkler’s research has found a way to protect key immune system cells by putting them to sleep during chemo and waking them up when they are needed to replenish the immune system, which can ultimately improve a patients’ ability to recover.”

Professor Prins also said that funding from the Queensland Government assisted A/Prof Winkler’s scientific research.

“It is important to note the Queensland Government’s assistance in providing funding for continued research in this field,” he said.

A/ Prof Winkler has received $240,000 in Queensland Government funding so far, with a further $120,000 to be provided over the next year.

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For more information contact:
Felicity Ivers
TRI Communicators Advisor
[email protected]
M 0418 831 289

From left to right: 1. Patient Robert Simpson; 2. A/Prof Ingrid Winkler, Team Leader, Stem Cells and Cancer Laboratory, Mater Research;3. Prof Andrew Perkins, Senior Principal Research Fellow and Co-Leader of Blood and Bone Diseases, Mater Research & Senior Staff Specialist in Haematology, Princess Alexandra Hospital; 4. Minister for Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts, Hon Ian Walker