Snowdome Foundation | 2024 Making an Impact

On 16 May, we hosted ‘Making an Impact’, a continuation of our series of educational events designed to highlight and showcase the latest in blood cancer research, technologies and next-generation treatments.

In 2024, the event was focused specifically on myeloma; a type of blood cancer that has gained a lot of media attention lately, due to the push for financial support from the Australian government to fund access to novel cutting-edge treatments. The event provided a platform for knowledge exchange, support and the showcasing of advancements in blood cancer research and treatment.

Professor Miles Prince AM, Snowdome Co-founder, Board Director and an internationally recognised Haematologist, presented on the importance of unlocking the immune system in the treatment of blood cancer, focusing on a ground-breaking therapy known as Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy. This treatment involves collecting T-cells from the patient, modifying them to target cancer cells and reintroducing them to the patient’s body. The modified T-cells then seek and destroy cancer cells with unparalleled precision.

Associate Professor, Jane Oliaro presented her cutting-edge research on novel gene editing technology at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (PMCC). Dr Oliaro’s lab is working on re-engineering CAR T-cells to secrete an inflammatory factor from a gene that is activated only when the T-cells recognise myeloma cells. This approach aims to reduce toxicity, enhance CAR T-cell activity and promote natural anti-cancer immunity.

We also heard from two myeloma patients, Geoff Nyssen, patient advocate, and Jeffrey Browne, President of the Collingwood Football Club. Whilst Jeffrey has been newly diagnosed, Geoff has been living with myeloma for 10 years.  Their journeys through the diagnosis and treatment of myeloma provided an insight into the human side of medical advancements.

Geoff Nyssen shared his experience with myeloma, which began in 2014. Despite undergoing multiple treatments, he experienced relapses after each one. Having exhausted all other options, Geoff then travelled to Seattle, USA, to receive CAR T-cell therapy.  This treatment is not yet approved in Australia for his specific type of non-secretory myeloma. Geoff is now in complete remission.

This was juxtaposed with Jeffrey Browne’s story. Following his myeloma diagnosis, Jeffrey underwent a series of treatments culminating in a stem cell transplant. However, his journey became a powerful call to action. Now, a steadfast advocate, Jeffrey champions equitable access to CAR T-cell therapies, ensuring every Australian blood cancer patient is given the chance for a cure.

In an engaging panel discussion led by Professor Miles Prince AM, attendees were then given the chance to ask questions about the latest research and potential outcomes for Australian blood cancer patients, with Dr. Sam Fiorenza, Clinical Haematologist, offering an opportunity for deeper exploration of the topics presented, the future of myeloma treatment and the critical role of continued support and collaboration among researchers.

The evening was a successful showcase of Snowdome’s commitment to making a tangible impact on the lives of blood cancer patients in Australia. We invite you to watch the full video of the event here.

Published June 2024.