A/Prof Steven Lane

Genetic editing for blood cancers

Steven is head of the Translational Leukaemia Research Laboratory at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Brisbane. He is also a haematologist and treats people with blood cancers.

Steven received his first Cure Cancer Australia grant in 2011 (co-funded with the Leukaemia Foundation and supported by The Can Too Foundation), then a second grant in 2014. This support proved to be “a complete game-changer for the laboratory”, he says.

His team examined ways to kill leukaemia cells by destabilising their genetic material. They showed that an enzyme in cells known as telomerase was able to kill leukaemia cells with minimal effects on normal blood counts.

The team is now working on a drug that targets telomerase and hope this may lead to a new clinical trial for treating patients with leukaemia within the year.

The research

Steven and his team now seek to understand how patients progress from early stages of blood cancers – such as polycythemia – to the more advanced stages, such as leukaemia or myelofibrosis.

“We’ve used a new lab technique called genome editing to alter the genetic code in cancer cells,” he says.

“We’ve tried to mimic the DNA changes that patients with cancer develop, and can use this exciting new technology to understand the effects the changes have on cancer.”

He hopes this work can revolutionise how researchers analyse the way genes influence the development of cancer and the body’s response to chemotherapy.

Funding allows new ideas

Steven believes that Cure Cancer Australia grants represent “a really amazing opportunity for young enthusiastic researchers who want to get their ideas off the ground.”

“The only way we’re going to beat cancer is to think of new approaches, and young researchers with new ideas are the key,” he says.  

“I know many inspired people have raised thousands of dollars for cancer research through Cure Cancer Australia. I’m always in awe of their efforts, commitment and motivation,” he says.

In his spare time, Steven enjoys cycling and running but says he rarely finds enough time to do either!


Steven is funded by Cure Cancer Australia and Cancer Australia through the Priority-driven Collaborative Cancer Research Scheme (PdCCRS). His grant is supported by Kanga News and Kapstream Capital.

We need your help

Donate to fund future researchers like Steven and let’s make this the last generation to die from cancer.