Professor John Rasko’s Groundbreaking Discovery
Cure Cancer Alumni Professor John Rasko AO has made a groundbreaking discovery in one of the most common genetic diseases in the world…
Professor John Rasko AO, Head of Gene and Stem Cell Therapy Program at the Centenary Institute and Head of the Department of Cell and Molecular Therapies at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital has announced that a cure has been found for a sub-set of what is considered one of the most common genetic diseases in the world – β-thalassemia.
Beta thalassemia (β-thalassemia) is a blood disorder that reduces the production of haemoglobin. Haemoglobin is the iron-containing protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to cells throughout the body. In people with β-thalassemia, low levels of haemoglobin lead to a lack of oxygen in many parts of the body.
It is reported that approximately 60,000 children are born every year with a serious form of the disease.
John is part of an international study involving 22 patients with Transfusion-Dependent β-Thalassemia of which the world-first results have been published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.
A springboard to success
John received his Cure Cancer Australia grant in 2004 and used it as a springboard to success. He believes it was integral to many great findings in cellular therapy at a time when funding was difficult to come by.
Under his leadership, the Gene and Stem Cell Therapy Program at the Centenary Institute has been awarded $22 million in funding, and the Department of Cell and Molecular Therapies at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital has been awarded funding in excess of $5 million. In late 2017, the RPA Hospital announced they had developed a world first breakthrough therapy for haemophilia sufferers. The research was led by Professor John Rasko alongside researchers from the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia.
John has made a profound impact on his field. He was awarded the Eric Susman Prize in 2011 by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians for the most outstanding contribution to the knowledge of any branch on internal medicine, and the Distinguished Fellow Award in 2013, which is the highest award of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia.
In 2012, John was appointed an Officer in the General Division in the Order of Australia (AO) for his ‘distinguished service to biomedical research in the field of gene and cell therapy.’
He serves on Hospital, State and National bodies, and is a founding Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences.
We congratulate Professor Rasko, his team and the international collaboration on this contribution to global health.
Listen to Professor Rasko interviewed on Radio National talking about the outcomes of the study along with two Australian patients who were part of the study.
One more thing...
With your help, we can continue to fund early-career researchers, like Prof John Rasko AO who are working across ALL cancers and ALL areas of cancer research.