Innovative new treatment options give hope to patients and families

An esteemed researcher in the field of lymphoma, Dr Kelly’s interest in science and medical research was partly shaped by her experience as a teenager losing a close school friend to Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Now after almost 20 years involved with blood cancer research, Dr Kelly is a laboratory head in the Blood Cells and Blood Cancer Division at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne.

She is focused on facilitating the progression of new targeted drugs into the clinic for the treatment of patients with cancer, in particular blood cancers.

Dr Kelly’s vision is for more effective therapies for people living with blood cancers.

The goal is therapies that work to kill cancer cells while sparing normal healthy cells, resulting in less side-effects and making them better tolerated for patients undergoing treatment.

Her research group is interested in manipulating the normal pathways to cell death in order to specifically trigger cancer cells to die.

The group has been involved with the pre-clinical testing of a drug that binds and blocks an essential protein that some blood cancer cells depend on to grow, and related drugs have recently entered clinical trials for blood cancer patients.

In the past year, Dr Kelly has been the co-recipient of a Leukaemia Foundation grant for research to identify alternative therapies for people with Burkitt’s lymphoma who do not respond to standard treatment or relapse.

She is also part of a research team which has been further developing a new genome editing technology called CRISPR/Cas9 for use in blood cancer cells.

This technology can be used in pre-clinical models to determine which cellular factors are essential for the survival and growth of cancer cells -research which was also supported by the Leukaemia Foundation.

Dr Kelly describes it as a true honour to be funded by the Leukaemia Foundation for her research and to fly the blue lantern at Light the Night, which she says is a fantastic and emotional event that really brings home how many people are, or have been, affected by blood cancer, inspiring her to work even harder.

Help show your support for Dr Gemma Kelly’s research and all those living with blood cancer by walking as part of Light the Night this year. Reserve your lantern today.


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