BDO Australia honours beloved colleague

BDO Australia honours beloved colleague

BDO Australia has raised $102,000 for the RBWH Foundation to expand research into one of the newest, most promising treatments for blood cancer: CAR T cell therapy.

The funds were raised in honour of former Brisbane colleague and Client Relations Executive Director Penny Flynn who passed away from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) in December 2020, before she was able to access the new generation treatment.

BDO's Brisbane Office Managing Partner, Steven Sorbello, said the team rallied behind the cause.

“Penny was vibrant, passionate and a much-loved member of our team at BDO. Her passing deeply affected us all and we were determined to do something to honour her memory,” he said.

“Penny was a connector, not just in a professional sense, but also on a personal level. If she saw someone she thought needed a friend, she’d go out of her way to speak to them.

“Sadly, Penny didn’t have access to this revolutionary treatment, but this donation in her name will help continue to allow people fighting the same battle she did, to do so.

“To be able to make a contribution like this in her name, we feel, reflects her generosity and giving nature that still brings a smile to the faces of her colleagues.

“We hope this contribution helps not only those in need now, but also helps fast-track research to ensure nobody else loses their life to this insidious disease.”

RBWH Foundation CEO Simone Garske said BDO’s incredible support of RBWH cancer research would ensure Penny Flynn’s legacy lived on.

“Thanks to BDO Australia, RBWH can expand its research program into the manufacture of CAR T cell products which offer hope to patients who have exhausted all other lines of blood cancer treatment,” said Ms Garske.

CAR T Cell therapy is a form of immunotherapy that modifies a patient’s own immune cells (T cells) to treat cancer. T cells are extracted from a patient’s bloodstream, genetically reprogrammed to recognise and destroy cancer cells, then infused back into the patient’s body.

RBWH is one of only six adult cancer centres in Australia accredited to deliver the therapy and the only centre in Australia conducting a clinical trial to manufacture CART T cells locally. Other Australian cancer centres send T cells to the US to be genetically modified before being returned to Australia as CAR T cells.

“Thanks to the generosity of BDO Australia, the number of patients we can help with CAR T cell therapy will only grow,” said RBWH Cancer Care Services Executive Director Associate Professor Glen Kennedy.

“Over the past 3 years, the RBWH CAR T program has manufactured 15 products successfully and infused 15 products into patients.”

CAR T cell technology is also highly effective in myeloma, but this is not currently available in Australia. Research is also underway to develop CAR T cells for common cancers such as bowel cancers, through to rarer cancers, such as brain cancers and childhood cancers,

“With BDO’s help, RBWH Cancer Care Services can invest in research to create a wider range of CAR T cell products able to attack different types of cancers,” said Associate Professor Kennedy.

“CAR T is currently successful in treating specific blood cancers, but we hope to also target brain cancer, breast cancer and other solid cancers.”

The RBWH Foundation is honoured to support RBWH in its goal is to become a national leader in CAR T cell cancer care and research.

To learn more, or to support this new generation of cancer treatment at RBWH in Penny's honour, please click here.

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Tate Papworth
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