Help us celebrate 10 years of haematological research by donating today!

It’s a special year for Perth Blood Institute (PBI) as we celebrate 10 years since our organisation was established in July 2013. Concurrently, we have reached a significant milestone of 33 active clinical trials and five research projects at present. We thank you for your support over the past decade, as without your ongoing donations, PBI would not be where it is today.

PBI is moving into a new chapter with Murdoch University, our research location and key collaborator since our establishment. The signing of an Affiliation Agreement will ensure our ongoing location and engagement for our research team, as they embark on the ‘Bleeding Disorders of Unknown Cause’ (BDUC) project.

This project is an important step forward for global bleeding disorders research as we team up with Prof. James O’Donnell from the RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences in Dublin. The research aims to address unmet medical needs in identifying BDUC to improve diagnosis and patient management.

I’m very pleased to advise that PBI has been successful in achieving Australian site selection for a large-scale COVID-19 related study with AstraZeneca, called SUPERNOVA.

This study will evaluate the safety and neutralizing activity of AZD5156 (a combination of 2 therapy drugs - AZD1061 and AZD3152). The drug will be used as a pre-exposure prophylaxis, for treatment to prevent disease from COVID-19 in participants with conditions causing immune impairment. Recruitment has already begun, and the clinical trials team has over 60 patients undergoing eligibility screening.

The ongoing funding that you have provided has been an important building block in the continued growth and reputation of PBI, which has been a factor in our successful site selection for the AstraZeneca SUPERNOVA trial. This trial could be instrumental in helping immunocompromised patients to manage the effects of COVID-19.

In addition to this fantastic initiative, PBI has progressed the COVAXI-2 trial. Working in conjunction with Western Diagnostic Pathology and Western Haematology, the clinical trials team led an investigation assessing the patient’s immune responses to the COVID-19 Evusheld vaccine in immunocompromised patients.

With the advent of new COVID-19 variants including Arcturus, XBB.1.5 and other immune-evasive Omicron variants, focus has been directed to AstraZeneca’s SUPERNOVA trial. The drug aims to neutralise all known variants of COVID-19 to date and  may provide lasting protection against infection.

I see great potential in these initiatives to enrich the lives of people living with blood disorders. It is with your support that we have continued to grow in this challenging climate – to continue to advance medical discoveries and improve care for patients.

Please read about father of three, Adrian. After spending his adolescent years seeking answers to his health problems, Adrian was given the diagnosis of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) in his thirties. After meeting myself and Dr. Maan Alwan, he had success on a clinical trial, following a long journey to that point.

As a teenager, Adrian often had fainting spells, and doctors and tests could not determine the cause. As he got older, they subsided, however unfortunately the episodes started again in 2010 and he knew something was wrong.

“I’ve had so many tests over the years and nobody could pinpoint anything”

As no one could find anything in the past, and being a busy kind of guy, Adrian didn’t think it was worth investigating further. Adrian didn’t think it was worth investigating further. He never thought it was anything serious as the symptoms had stopped. When the fainting spells started again and Adrian just wasn’t feeling the best, his wife suggested he go to the doctor. After the GP ran a series of blood tests, the doctor said “I need to speak to you, then she told me what it was, my blood levels weren’t right and that’s how I knew”.

“I said to my wife, I’ve done this so many times, I’ve had so many scans and they couldn’t find anything and this time they did”

Adrian was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia and went on a “crazy” treatment regime, which didn’t feel right and was not successful. For a few years he was on a ‘watch & wait’ plan. The only family history he knew of, was an uncle who had a different form of leukaemia.

”You get told you have leukemia, at that point you don’t really know what to do”

“It was a kick in the guts, I didn’t believe it”

In 2013, Adrian met with Professor Ross Baker and “I haven’t looked back since”. As Adrian’s bloods weren’t looking the best, he started 3-4 rounds of chemo which knocked him around for years. Just getting back up and doing things was difficult. Feeling very weak and having a compromised immune system, Adrian was admitted to hospital for 1½ to 3 weeks at a time.

It was a tough time. He had a three-month old son whom he had very little contact with. “My wife would come in and out of the hospital all the time with my other son who was only three-years old.”

“It was nice to have the support of friends and family, to help my wife out at the time – everyone was very supportive”

In 2019, Adrian joined a global clinical trial with Perth Blood Institute. The trial evaluated the impact of the drug Venetoclax on the quality of life of patients with CLL. During the course of the trial, Adrian was working with haematologist Dr Maan Alwan who closely monitored Adrian’s response to the drug. He experienced some adverse reactions to the treatment and recurring respiratory infections. As a result, his dosage was altered and he also receives an injection every month to help manage the infections. These have kept him healthy and the viruses at bay.

Adrian’s recovery has been slow, and it has taken a long time to get back on his feet – “you don’t look back, you just keep going”. His advice to others is to be positive and “it’s nice to have lots of friends and family around”; and also “do what the doctors say”. He didn’t have any reservations about joining the trial, and is very grateful, and says PBI and the doctors have done a great job.

“I get a level of care I couldn’t find anywhere else”

Adrian continues to take his medication and has regular blood tests – his current test results are stable. He now has three children, is working as a building supervisor, and spends time working at his avocado farm.

Adrian’s story is one of many which demonstrate the way your support over the last 10 years has enabled PBI to improve our understanding and treatment practices of blood disorders.

We look forward to a milestone year ahead for PBI, to mark 10 years. I would like to personally thank you for your donation, no matter how large or small, it all contributes to help our mission – to make blood disorders a thing of the past.

Kind regards,

Professor Ross Baker

Chair, Perth Blood Institute