1 minute read  •  Research

Mater Research breakthrough makes chemotherapy safer

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Mater Research Associate Professor Ingrid Winkler has discovered how to flick a biological switch that enables the immune system to be better protected during chemotherapy.

The research breakthrough could relieve suffering for patients during cancer treatment by making chemotherapy safer.

A/Prof Winkler’s research has discovered how to put Haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) to sleep and wake them up again when needed.

“These HSC cells are important in regenerating immune systems,” A/Prof Winkler said.

“Usually when chemo is finished, a patient has nothing left to fight infection. This is because, with the immune system temporarily down, patients become susceptible to bacterial infections. I’ve found a way of putting these normal cells back to sleep so they can resist the chemotherapy treatment,” she said.

The cells can then be woken up after cancer treatment so they can help remake the immune system, improving the patient’s ability to recover.

The work by A/Prof Winkler is a significant breakthrough, particularly for the thousands patients diagnosed with cancer each year, many who will then undergo chemotherapy.

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