Dr Kate Vandyke

Targeting the side effects of multiple myeloma drugs

Kate’s research grant is co-funded with Cancer Australia and Leukaemia Foundation.

The past two decades have seen the introduction of several new drugs for the treatment of multiple myeloma, an incurable blood cancer that claims around 100,000 people globally each year.

But for many patients, the new treatments, which can dramatically improve survival rates, cause severe side effects ranging from nausea and vomiting to fatigue and increased susceptibility to infection. These typically have a huge negative impact on patients’ quality of life, often meaning that they must reduce the dose of the drugs or stop treatment altogether.

In her ongoing Cure Cancer-supported research, Dr Kate Vandyke, a lecturer and researcher at the University of Adelaide and South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, is pursuing promising potential solutions to these problems.

The research

With her team Kate has identified a new treatment which, they have shown, dramatically increases the anti-cancer effect of common anti-myeloma drugs. Their research suggests that this treatment works by increasing the delivery of anti-myeloma drugs directly to the site of the tumour.

In her current project, too, the team will undertake more work to determine whether this new treatment can be used to decrease the side-effects of anti-cancer therapies generally.

“The research has the potential to dramatically improve the quality of life of patients with myeloma, because for many the side effects of treatment are worse than the symptoms of the cancer itself,” Kate says. “Importantly the results are likely to apply to other cancer treatments as well.”

Kate has already worked on several projects focused on regulating myeloma dissemination and its interactions with bone marrow. Funding from Cure Cancer will enable her to build on this solid base, she says.

Funding support

“Without an established track record in obtaining research grants, it can be near impossible to get one’s foot in the door in many funding schemes,” she adds.

“That’s one reason Cure Cancer Australia grants are so highly competitive, as reflected in the high calibre of their recipients. I’m honoured to have been selected – I view it as one of my greatest career achievements to date!”

Kate is married with three young children. When not working she enjoys good food and wine, and spending time with her family and friends.

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