The 2019 THANZ medal was awarded to Omar Elaskalani for his presentation at the Thrombosis & Haemostasis Society of Australia and New Zealand (THANZ) annual scientific meeting.

Omar’s data and findings underscored the contribution of blood platelets and thrombosis to pancreatic cancer progression and resistance to treatment.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most fatal diseases. Less than 9% of people who develop this type of cancer survive 5 years after diagnosis. This discouraging outlook is the result of late diagnosis and chemotherapy resistance.

Our team has found that pancreatic cancer cells activate platelets; tiny blood cells that clump together in the blood, leading to the build-up of blood clots. In return, platelets spit out growth factors to fuel pancreatic cancer and boost chemotherapy resistance. We found that a commonly-used blood thinner blocked cancer-platelet crosstalk, eradicated pancreatic cancer cells grown in the lab and increased the anti-cancer activity of chemotherapy in mice with pancreatic cancer.

This is preliminary evidence, and more confirmation is needed in other models of pancreatic cancer before conducting a clinical trial in humans.

Perth Blood Institute is proud to foster ground-breaking research that improves outcomes for patients with blood disorders.

The THANZ award recognises excellent scientific achievement, top scoring abstracts and presentations.