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University of Western Australia invents automated technique to benefit leukaemia patients

University of Western Australia invents automated technique to benefit leukaemia patients

A world-first medical invention by the
researchers from the University
of Western Australia
(UWA) can detect abnormal chromosomes inside
leukaemia cells.

According to the announcement
made by the UWA, their invention is a finalist for the 2018 Australian
Museum Eureka Prize
for its capability to detect as few as one
abnormal cell in 10,000 normal cells, which is considered as a significant improvement
on existing detection methods.

This is good news for patients with
leukaemia as they can now be closely monitored at any stage of their disease in
order to assess their response to the treatment. This will also deliver an
early indication of recurrence.

Cancer diagnostics will be greatly
improved, which will lead to more individualised treatments and better patient
care.

Immuno-flowFISH is an automated technique
that uses imaging flow cytometry developed by Professor Wendy Erber, Dr Kathy
Fuller and Mr Henry Hui from the UWA Medical School.

Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia is the most
common type of leukaemia in Australia which affects 3% of people over 60 years old.
The Immuno-flowFISH method was used by the team to study this type of
leukaemia.

Professor Wendy Erber explained that their
method adds a new dimension to how leukaemia can be assessed and how treatment
decisions are made.

She added that they have now expanded the
test in order for it to be applied to other types of leukaemia and cancers as
well, highlighting that the method they have invented offers a significant
potential impact for patients with these diseases.

Moreover, the invention promises a new era
for diagnostic accuracy, personalised treatment and overall health outcomes for
patients with cancers.

Excellence in the fields of research and
innovation, leadership, science engagement and school science are usually
recognised during the annual Australian Museum Eureka Prizes. For the Immuno-flowFISH
invention, UWA was selected as a Eureka finalist for Innovative Use of
Technology.

Professor Erber shared that being selected
as a finalist for the Eureka Award was a great honour and the research team was
delighted to have their work acknowledged because of the difference it will
make to patients.

Prize winners include scientists and
researchers whose contributions are helping solve some of the greatest
challenges facing humanity and fostering the nation’s next generation of
scientific leaders and researchers.

The Eureka Prize winners will be announced
on 29 August 2018.