Publications by authors named "Myra Ruka"

6 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Chimeric antigen receptor T-cells in New Zealand: challenges and opportunities.

N Z Med J 2021 Sep 17;134(1542):96-108. Epub 2021 Sep 17.

Cancer Immunotherapy Programme, Malaghan Institute of Medical Research, Wellington, New Zealand; Clinical Human Immunology Laboratory, Malaghan Institute of Medical Research, Wellington, New Zealand.

Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cells are a personalised cell and gene therapy for cancer that are becoming an international standard of care for some refractory B-cell leukaemias, non-Hodgkin lymphomas and myeloma. A single CAR T-cell administration can result in durable complete response for some recipients. Domestic CAR T-cell manufacturing capability was established for Aotearoa New Zealand's first CAR T-cell trial (ENABLE, ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04049513). This article outlines CAR T-cell manufacturing and logistical considerations, with a focus on New Zealand's environment for this personalised cell and gene therapy. We discuss Māori engagement in CAR T-cell trial and clinical service design, and propose enhancing Māori guardianship (kaitiakitanga) over cells and genetic material through on-shore manufacture. Strategies to safely deliver CAR T-cells within New Zealand's healthcare system are outlined. Finally, we discuss challenges to, and opportunities for, widening CAR T-cell availability and assuring equity of access. Based on our experience, we consider Aotearoa New Zealand to be in an excellent position to develop and implement investigational and commercial CAR T-cell therapies in the future.
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September 2021

Maintaining cancer services during the COVID-19 pandemic: the Aotearoa New Zealand experience.

Lancet Reg Health West Pac 2021 Jun 9;11:100172. Epub 2021 Jun 9.

Te Aho o Te Kahu, Cancer Control Agency, Molesworth St, Wellington, New Zealand.

COVID-19 caused significant disruption to cancer services around the world. The health system in Aotearoa New Zealand has fared better than many other regions, with the country being successful, so far, in avoiding sustained community transmission. However, there was a significant initial disruption to services across the cancer continuum, resulting in a decrease in the number of new diagnoses of cancer in March and April 2020. Te Aho o Te Kahu, Aotearoa New Zealand's national Cancer Control Agency, coordinated a nationwide response to minimise the impact of COVID-19 on people with cancer. The response, outlined in this paper, included rapid clinical governance, a strong equity focus, development of national clinical guidance, utilising new ways of delivering care, identifying and addressing systems issues and close monitoring and reporting of the impact on cancer services. Diagnostic procedures and new cancer registrations increased in the months following the national lockdown, and the cumulative number of cancer registrations in 2020 surpassed the number of registrations in 2019 by the end of September. Cancer treatment services - surgery, medical oncology, radiation oncology and haematology - continued during the national COVID-19 lockdown in March and April 2020 and continued to be delivered at pre-COVID-19 volumes in the months since. We are cautiously optimistic that, in general, the COVID-19 pandemic does not appear to have increased inequities in cancer diagnosis and treatment for Māori in Aotearoa New Zealand.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.lanwpc.2021.100172DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8315642PMC
June 2021

Letter on an iceberg.

N Z Med J 2021 06 4;134(1536):134-135. Epub 2021 Jun 4.

Member, Māori Health Committee, Tauranga.

In the public sphere, issues are like icebergs. This somewhat hackneyed metaphor illustrates that, while one facet of an issue is perceived, what is not seen is the hidden substructure of power and culture that form and reinforce it, buoying the issue to prominence above the surface.
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June 2021

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer diagnosis and service access in New Zealand-a country pursuing COVID-19 elimination.

Lancet Reg Health West Pac 2021 May 22;10:100127. Epub 2021 Mar 22.

Te Aho o Te Kahu - Cancer Control Agency, Molesworth St, Wellington, New Zealand.

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted cancer services globally. New Zealand has pursued an elimination strategy to COVID-19, reducing (but not eliminating) this disruption. Early in the pandemic, our national Cancer Control Agency () began monitoring and reporting on service access to inform national and regional decision-making. In this manuscript we use high-quality, national-level data to describe changes in cancer registrations, diagnosis and treatment over the course of New Zealand's response to COVID-19.

Methods: Data were sourced (2018-2020) from national collections, including cancer registrations, inpatient hospitalisations and outpatient events. Cancer registrations, diagnostic testing (gastrointestinal endoscopy), surgery (colorectal, lung and prostate surgeries), medical oncology access (first specialist appointments [FSAs] and intravenous chemotherapy attendances) and radiation oncology access (FSAs and megavoltage attendances) were extracted. Descriptive analyses of count data were performed, stratified by ethnicity (Indigenous Māori, Pacific Island, non-Māori/non-Pacific).

Findings: Compared to 2018-2019, there was a 40% decline in cancer registrations during New Zealand's national shutdown in March-April 2020, increasing back to pre-shutdown levels over subsequent months. While there was a sharp decline in endoscopies, pre-shutdown volumes were achieved again by August. The impact on cancer surgery and medical oncology has been minimal, but there has been an 8% year-to-date decrease in radiation therapy attendances. With the exception of lung cancer, there is no evidence that existing inequities in service access between ethnic groups have been exacerbated by COVID-19.

Interpretation: The impact of COVID-19 on cancer care in New Zealand has been largely mitigated. The New Zealand experience may provide other agencies or organisations with a sense of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer services within a country that has actively pursued elimination of COVID-19.

Funding: Data were provided by New Zealand's Ministry of Health, and analyses completed by Te Aho o Te Kahu staff.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.lanwpc.2021.100127DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7983868PMC
May 2021

Managing haematology and oncology patients during the COVID-19 pandemic: interim consensus guidance.

Med J Aust 2020 06 13;212(10):481-489. Epub 2020 May 13.

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, VIC.

Introduction: A pandemic coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, causes COVID-19, a potentially life-threatening respiratory disease. Patients with cancer may have compromised immunity due to their malignancy and/or treatment, and may be at elevated risk of severe COVID-19. Community transmission of COVID-19 could overwhelm health care services, compromising delivery of cancer care. This interim consensus guidance provides advice for clinicians managing patients with cancer during the pandemic.

Main Recommendations: During the COVID-19 pandemic: In patients with cancer with fever and/or respiratory symptoms, consider causes in addition to COVID-19, including other infections and therapy-related pneumonitis. For suspected or confirmed COVID-19, discuss temporary cessation of cancer therapy with a relevant specialist. Provide information on COVID-19 for patients and carers. Adopt measures within cancer centres to reduce risk of nosocomial SARS-CoV-2 acquisition; support population-wide social distancing; reduce demand on acute services; ensure adequate staffing; and provide culturally safe care. Measures should be equitable, transparent and proportionate to the COVID-19 threat. Consider the risks and benefits of modifying cancer therapies due to COVID-19. Communicate treatment modifications, and review once health service capacity allows. Consider potential impacts of COVID-19 on the blood supply and availability of stem cell donors. Discuss and document goals of care, and involve palliative care services in contingency planning.

Changes In Management As A Result Of This Statement: This interim consensus guidance provides a framework for clinicians managing patients with cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic. In view of the rapidly changing situation, clinicians must also monitor national, state, local and institutional policies, which will take precedence.

Endorsed By: Australasian Leukaemia and Lymphoma Group; Australasian Lung Cancer Trials Group; Australian and New Zealand Children's Haematology/Oncology Group; Australia and New Zealand Society of Palliative Medicine; Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases; Bone Marrow Transplantation Society of Australia and New Zealand; Cancer Council Australia; Cancer Nurses Society of Australia; Cancer Society of New Zealand; Clinical Oncology Society of Australia; Haematology Society of Australia and New Zealand; National Centre for Infections in Cancer; New Zealand Cancer Control Agency; New Zealand Society for Oncology; and Palliative Care Australia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.5694/mja2.50607DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7273031PMC
June 2020

Inherited thrombophilia testing in a large tertiary hospital in New Zealand: implementation of a Choosing Wisely protocol to reduce unnecessary testing and costs.

N Z Med J 2020 04 3;133(1512):45-58. Epub 2020 Apr 3.

Haematology Department and Haematology Laboratory, Waikato Hospital, Hamilton; Haematology Department, University Hospital Limerick, Ireland.

Aim: To evaluate the practice of inherited thrombophilia testing at Waikato Hospital Laboratory, benchmarked against the British Society of Haematology (BSH) guidelines with the plan to reduce unnecessary testing.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed data on all inherited thrombophilia tests performed in the Waikato Hospital Laboratory during August 2015. We then established a local Choosing Wisely guideline for testing. A clinical and laboratory programme was developed to facilitate the implementation of this guideline. Ordering practices were re-evaluated six months after the implementation of the Choosing Wisely programme.

Results: Of the 94 requests received in August 2015, only one complied with BSH guidelines. Most abnormal results did not change the clinical management of patients. In the first six months following the implementation of our intervention, there was a significant reduction of tests performed with an estimated savings of $118,000.

Conclusions: The majority of inherited thrombophilia tests performed in our laboratory did not comply with BSH guidelines. A multimodal inherited thrombophilia Choosing Wisely programme was successful in reducing unnecessary testing. A laboratory protocol that required screening of every inherited thrombophilia request by a haematologist was necessary for the success of this programme.
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April 2020
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