Balmain doctor’s short solution for cancer

Featured in Burwood Scene, July 3, 2015.

Balmain haematologist Christian Bryant knows just how important it is to keep things short and sweet.

The 36-year-old PhD candidate at the ANZAC Research Institute was the winner in the three-minute thesis competition at the recent Sydney Catalyst Early Career Researcher Post Graduate Symposium.

Dr Bryant was awarded $45,000 over one year for the project: ‘Therapeutic vaccination for acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) using mRNA-loaded blood dendritic cells’. His research will be conducted at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

“It was really hard to be succinct,” he admitted.

“It was the second three-minute thesis I’ve won, and I think it’s a useful skill to be able to boil down your complicated work to the essential points.”

To prepare, Dr Bryant timed himself, practising “thousands of times.”

“The good and bad thing is that you can prepare it to the point where you get sick of your own voice, but you still feel nervous – it never changes,” he said.

According to Dr Bryant, AML is the commonest form of adult leukaemia.

“When patients get it, they’re usually old and the best current therapy is chemotherapy. If patients can tolerate it, they can get rid of almost all of the cells, but some cells still survive in most patients, which makes it come back,” he explained.

The technology which Professor Hart has been developing over the last 20 years aims to help the immune system recognise these recurring cells and eliminate them.

Chris Bryant and Derek Hart from the Dendritic Cell Research group

Chris Bryant and Derek Hart from the Dendritic Cell Research group

“Other groups are doing it with some success and the work I presented showed that our vaccine is powerful and it can be made from leukaemia patients’ blood and make the immune system recognise their cells,” Dr Bryant said.

“The work I’ll be doing with the team at RPA and Concord Hospital and the ANZAC Research Institute will be trying to prove it works before taking it into a clinical trial.”

As a member of Derek Hart’s ANZAC Research Institute at Concord Hospital, Dr Bryant enjoys working in the team.

“It’s a very vibrant and stimulating intellectual environment,” he said.

“There are some very amazing people and to suggest ideas and be listened to is beautiful.”

By Mitchell Jordan

Photo Caption: Haematologist Christian Bryant at Concord’s ANZAC Research Institute with Professor Derek Hart.


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