In laboratories around the country and the world, Australian researchers and clinicians are striving to find new blood cancer treatments to make it a curable disease for all.
We are proud to support one such researcher, Queensland’s clinician scientist, Dr Siok Tey, who is recognised nationally and internationally for her work in bone marrow transplantation and immunotherapy.
In 2022 Dr Tey was awarded the HSANZ Snowdome Foundation Mid-Career Award for outstanding blood cancer research. This award recognises and celebrates her achievements as one of Australia’s best and brightest mid-career blood cancer researchers.
T-cell therapy can be effective in the treatment of blood cancers. They can also help rebuild the immune system after bone marrow transplantation.
Dr Tey led one of the first clinical trials in Australia to use gene-modified T-cells to improve the outcome of bone marrow transplantation. This study showed that the gene-modified T cells could accelerate immune recovery by expanding a million-fold within a few weeks and yet be safely deleted if they cause complications. Dr Tey is now taking this concept beyond bone marrow transplantation and extend the use of gene-modified T cells to a broader group of patients with blood cancers. Central to Dr Tey’s endeavour is establishing a model of care based on in-house manufacturing to complement current model of care that largely relies on off-shore manufacturing.
The establishment of in-house capacity to manufacture gene-modified T cells has paved the way for an ongoing phase I clinical trial using CAR T-cells for the treatment of blood cancers. These CAR T cells are manufactured on-site within the hospital, which makes the treatment more accessible, timely and cost-efficient. It also enables bench-to-bedside translation of new discoveries into clinical trials within Australia.
Dr Siok Tey is a staff specialist in Clinical Haematology and Bone Marrow Transplantation at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, and Group Leader at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute.
Dr Tey graduated from the University of Queensland and completed her subspecialty training in Brisbane. She received an HSANZ New Investigator Award in 2005 to undertake a research fellowship at the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, USA. There she developed a gene-modification method to make T cells delete-able in the case of adverse events and took this technology from basic research to first-in-human clinical trial.
She returned to Australia and completed a PhD in immunology at QIMR Berghofer and a post-doctorate in bone marrow transplant immunobiology.
Her research interests are bone marrow transplantation and gene-modified T cell therapy, including the development and delivery of novel CAR T-cell therapies.