Unveiling the Secrets of Blood Cancers: A Quest for Improved Patient Outcomes

Each year, 326 Queenslanders are diagnosed with myeloid leukaemia. More than half of those who are diagnosed will pass away within five years of diagnosis.

Dr. Jasmin Straube is leading a groundbreaking research initiative aimed at changing the outcome for everyone diagnosed with myeloid blood cancers.

Her work, “Identifying vulnerabilities in leukemic stem cells with poor prognostic mutations to improve myeloid blood cancer patient outcomes,” seeks to unravel the complexities of gene mutations that determine a patient’s risk of disease progression and resistance to treatment. In recognition of the lifesaving potential of Dr Straube’s research, she has been granted a Cancer Council Queensland Next Generation Cancer Research Fellowship.

Understanding the Research

Myeloid blood cancers – caused by mutations in specific genes – are shockingly aggressive cancers that are heartbreaking for both patients and their families. Dr. Straube’s research uses cutting-edge technology to decipher how these gene mutations contribute to cancer development and influence the effectiveness of treatment and overall survival.

The ultimate goal of her research is to gain a comprehensive understanding of these mutations, which can pave the way for developing better drugs that will lead to more people surviving.

What this research means for Queenslanders

Medical advancements have significantly improved the survival rate for the 1 in 200 Queenslanders who are diagnosed with cancer every year. However, certain blood cancers, like myeloid leukaemia, remain aggressive and resistant to treatment. More than half of the patients diagnosed with these cancers die within a year of their diagnosis.

Dr. Straube hopes to identify therapies that will provide patients diagnosed with myeloid blood cancers with a fighting chance at life. This crucial research is made possible by Queenslanders’ generous support of Cancer Council Queensland.

The researcher’s journey

Dr. Jasmin Straube from QIMR Berghofer is researching vulnerabilities in leukemic stem cells carrying poor prognostic mutations. Her work will play a critical role in improving outcomes for patients with myeloid blood cancer.
Dr. Straube’s comes from a family of dedicated doctors. She has seen firsthand the positive impacts her father and grandfather had in treating their patients which, coupled with her family’s’ personal experience of cancer, has fuelled her determination to explore the complex relationship between genetics and diseases.

“While finishing my Masters degree, my personal life was impacted by the loss of close family members to cancer. In a year, my uncle died of lung cancer, and my cousin-in-law lost her battle with breast cancer, leaving behind a young child and a shattered family,” Dr. Straube said.

“The devastation and helplessness I felt and still feel every time someone close to me gets a cancer diagnosis drives me to unravel the genetic complexity of cancer and to find its Achilles heel.”

The rewarding aspects of her role

For Dr. Straube, the most rewarding aspect of her role is getting to work with a variety of individuals who have lived experience, clinicians, biologists, and Cancer Council Queensland. Together, this diverse team works towards providing patients with informed treatment options based on their individual cancer genetics.

This collaborative effort not only enhances the potential for successful outcomes but also holds the promise of advancing our knowledge of treatment resistant cancers.

As Queenslanders, our support for this research is vital in offering a brighter future for those affected by these aggressive blood cancers.