News

TREATT trial update

The TREATT trial is reopened to recruitment after a COVID-related hiatus affecting all participating Australian and UK hospitals. In a briefing for Australian investigators on 9 June, trial coordinator Amber Degelia updated the group on recent activities. Well done to the team at Monash Medical Centre who recruited the first post-COVID participant. Only 57 more patients are needed to reach the goal of 616 total participants – the finish line is in sight! Thank you to all the patients and staff working on TREATT across the country.

Convalescent plasma study for COVID-19 funded by the MRFF

Congratulations to A/Prof Zoe McQuilten and colleagues, whose SARS-CoV-2 Australian Convalescent Plasma Study has been awarded support from the Medical Research Future Fund (Antiviral Development for COVID-19 Funding). The study is a collaboration between the Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Research Centre, the Randomised, Embedded, Multifactorial Adaptive Platform Trial for Community-Acquired Pneumonia (REMAP-CAP) investigators, the Australasian COVID-19 Trial (ASCOT) investigators, the Monash University Transfusion Research Unit/Blood Synergy investigators, and the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood.

Myeloma and lymphoma registries highlighted at the National Oncology Alliance/Rare Cancers Australia workshop

Professor Andrew Spencer, chair of the Myeloma and Related Diseases Registry steering committee, and Professor Stephen Opat, chair of the Lymphoma and Related Diseases Registry steering committee, shared their experiences of collecting and analysis of ‘real world’ data using registries for blood cancers at the NOA Vision 20-30 workshop. They emphasised the value of these data for patients, clinicians, governments and industry, and how registry data complement the information provided by clinical trials. More information on these registries is available at: www.mrdr.net.au and www.lardr.org

TRU contributes to Cochrane rapid review of convalescent plasma or hyperimmune immunoglobulin for COVID-19, and to guidelines for managing haematology/ oncology patients during the COVID-19 pandemic

Haematologist and TRU PhD student Dr Khaili Chai and colleagues contributed to a Cochrane rapid review of convalescent plasma or hyperimmune immunoglobulins for COVID-19. The study was published on 14th May 2020. The work will be updated as a living review, as more data on the safety and efficacy of these therapies become available.

Valk SJ, Piechotta V, Chai KL, Doree C, Monsef I, Wood EM, Lamikanra A, Kimber C, McQuilten Z, So-Osman C, Estcourt LJ, Skoetz N. Convalescent plasma or hyperimmune immunoglobulin for people with COVID‐19: a rapid review. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2020, Issue 5. Art. No.: CD013600. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD013600.

A/Prof Zoe McQuilten and colleagues developed guidance for clinicians managing haematology patients during the pandemic. The recommendations were endorsed by a large number of professional organisations across Australia and New Zealand.

Weinkove R, McQuilten ZK, Adler J, Agar MR, Blyth E, Cheng AC, Conyers R, Haeusler GM, Hardie C, Jackson C, Lane SW, Middlemiss T, Mollee P, Mulligan SP, Ritchie D, Ruka M, Solomon B, Szer J, Thursky KA, Wood EM, Worth LJ, Yong MK, Slavin MA, Teh BW. Managing haematology and oncology patients during the COVID-19 pandemic: interim consensus guidance. Med J Aust. 2020 Jun;212(10):481-489.

NHMRC Investigator Grant for A/Prof Zoe McQuilten

Well done, Zoe! A/Prof Zoe McQuilten has been awarded an NHMRC Investigator Grant for her research: “Improving patient outcomes through better use of blood products”. The highly competitive award will support Zoe’s research for 5 years from 2021.

My-PROMPT study results published

Congratulations to Dr Elizabeth Moore and colleagues on publication of the MY-PROMPT study results. This pilot randomized controlled trial showed that it was feasible to collect patient-reported outcomes on quality-of-life issues important to patients with myeloma, and provide real-time feedback of these results to clinicians. The study’s findings will help inform a future study in this area.

Moore EM, King TA, Wood EM, Ruseckaite R, Klarica D, Spencer A, Ho PJ, Quach H, Prince HM, McQuilten ZK. Patient-reported outcome measures in multiple myeloma: real-time reporting to improve care (My-PROMPT) - a pilot randomized controlled trial. Am J Hematol 2020 Apr 3. doi: 10.1002/ajh.25815.

Fiona Stanley Prize for NHMRC Synergy Grant

Professor Erica Wood was delighted to receive the inaugural Fiona Stanley Prize for the top-ranked 2019 Synergy grant: “Addressing Australia’s national transfusion research priorities”. It was extra-special that Professor Stanley herself presented the award at the NHMRC Research Excellence Awards dinner, held in Canberra in March 2020.

Victorian Cancer Agency Clinical Research Fellowship for A/Prof Zoe McQuilten

Congratulations to A/Prof Zoe McQuilten who has been awarded a 5-year Victorian Cancer Agency Clinical Research Fellowship. This funding will support her work on the IMPACT program: Immunoglobulin replacement versus Prophylactic Antibiotics to prevent infections in patients with hypogammaglobulinaemia due to blood Cancers Trials.

Immunoglobulin products made from donated plasma are routinely used to supplement antibody levels to prevent infections for patients with blood cancers such as myeloma and lymphoma. However, treatment of these disorders has changed dramatically since the original studies on immunoglobulin replacement were conducted, and there is little up-to-date evidence on optimal use of these blood products or alternative therapies. Zoe will continue and expand the TRU clinical trials program to identify which patients are most likely to benefit from immunoglobulin and whether alternatives, such as antibiotics, could also be effective, aiming to improve patient outcomes, reduce risks and costs, and improve stewardship of these precious community resources.

NHMRC Synergy Grant kicks off with planning day

The investigators of the successful NHMRC Synergy grant met for the first time on 21st February to get underway with the 5-year program of work: “Addressing Australia’s national transfusion research priorities.” Main themes of the research include major haemorrhage and massive transfusion, prevention and management of bleeding and anaemia in patients with blood cancers, bleeding and platelet transfusions in patients with critical illness, and efficient and effective use of immunoglobulins.

Pictured left: Investigators and guests

Absent: Prof Jamie Cooper, A/Prof Craig French, Prof Enrico Coiera, Prof Simon Stanworth

Recent publications from the Australian and New Zealand Massive Transfusion Registry

Congratulations to the ANZ-MTR team on two recent publications:

“Haematological features, transfusion management and outcomes of massive obstetric haemorrhage: findings from the Australian and New Zealand Massive Transfusion Registry” was published in the British Journal of Haematology in February 2020, led by Dr Masa Lasica and A/Prof Rosemary Sparrow.

“Clinical coding data algorithm to categorize type of gastrointestinal bleeding as a primary reason for massive transfusion: results from the Australian and New Zealand Massive Transfusion Registry”, was published online in Vox Sanguinis in November 2019, led by Dr Shara Ket and A/Prof Rosemary Sparrow.

TRU welcomes new staff and students for 2020

TRU welcomes Sabine Albold who joins the Myeloma and Related Diseases Registry (MRDR) team as a Research Officer, and Natthida Khajornjiraphan and Rosalyn Cao who are working with us on 6-month projects using the MRDR for their Master of Clinical Research studies. We also welcome our new PhD student Dr Khaili Chai, haematologist, who will be studying immunoglobulin use in patients with blood cancers. Kamal Al-Helou joins us for a professional placement year as part of the RMIT Pharmaceutical Sciences program – the fourth year TRU has hosted a student. Dr Mike Shipton from Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Dr Adi Tedjaseputra from Monash Health, both training in haematology, are working on projects using the Lymphoma and Related Diseases Registry (LaRDR).

Prof Erica Wood participates in the APEC Life Science Innovation Forum on Blood Screening and Processing Centralisation through development of Centres of Excellence

Erica was an invited speaker at the APEC meeting held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia on 4-5 February 2020, which brought together experts in blood safety from a number of APEC countries. She gave four presentations at the forum and its associated ‘basic-advanced course in transfusion’ for clinicians, covering special considerations for female blood donors, international haemovigilance, engaging with clinicians, and patient blood management.

Transfusion Research Unit NHMRC Synergy Grant success

Congratulations to all investigators and supporters on the award of a $5 million NHMRC Synergy Grant: “Addressing Australia’s national transfusion research priorities”.

The research focusses on two major themes:

  1. Evidence gaps in patient blood management, both in critical bleeding and for support of patients with blood cancers
  2. Evidence gaps in immunoglobulin use

The research will include observational studies and interventional trials of new approaches and new blood products.

The Chief Investigators are: Prof Erica Wood, A/Prof Zoe McQuilten, Prof Peter Cameron, Prof D Jamie Cooper, Prof Michael Reade, Ms Alisa Higgins, Prof Judith Trotman, Prof Simon Stanworth and Ms Linley Bielby. The Associate Investigators are: Prof Enrico Coiera, Dr Andrew Flint, A/Prof Craig French, Prof Anthony Harris, Dr Allison Mo, A/Prof John Reynolds, Dr Brenton Sanderson, and Dr Rosemary Sparrow.

Prof Erica Wood attends meeting of World Health Organization anaemia guideline development group

WHO has convened a new guideline development group on the use and interpretation of haemoglobin concentrations for assessing anaemia in both individuals and populations. The multi-disciplinary group met for the first time in Barcelona in November 2019 to identify available evidence and priorities for research and implementation to address these important issues.