Accelerated Research Investment – Teen Cancer

Page last updated: 22 December 2017 (this page is generated automatically and reflects updates to other content within the website)

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The Australian Government will invest $5 million in new targeted clinical trial activity for adolescents and young adults with cancer.

Key Elements

Investment will facilitate new clinical trial activity, and provide greater access to innovative and cutting edge approaches for adolescent and young adult cancer patients, with the aim of pursuing research breakthroughs that change lives.


  • The burden of disease from cancer is high among adolescents and young adults.
  • Over 900 adolescents and young adults are diagnosed with cancer each year in Australia.
  • Adolescents and young adults with cancer have unique and complex needs, and tend to experience very poor access to clinical trials, compared to children and older cancer patients.
  • Barriers to trial participation mean it is difficult for adolescents and young adults to get access to emerging new drugs and treatments.
  • In Australia, only four to seven per cent of adolescents and young adults participate in clinical trials – in other countries participation rates are as high as 30 per cent.

Desired outcomes

  • New opportunities for clinical trial participation and associated benefits from the latest research.
  • Access to new inventions and treatment options.
  • Identification of new strategies to remove barriers to adolescent and young adult clinical trial participation.
  • Sharing best practice across Australia to increase clinical trial recruitment rates for this vulnerable patient cohort.
  • Purposeful collaboration with researchers across health services and institutions, and with the private sector.
  • Reinforcement of Australia’s position as a preferred destination for clinical trials.

Key facts

  • Clinical trials are investigations that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, drug or device is safe and effective for humans.
  • Trials are important tools that contribute to knowledge, and generate best practice, prove the efficacy of new treatments and change clinical practice.
  • Almost twice as many young Australians (15-25 years) are diagnosed with cancer (annually over 900) compared to children (0-14 years).
  • Adolescents and young adults with cancer represent a discrete group and their needs differ substantially from those of their younger and older counterparts.
  • CanTeen is Australia’s national support organisation for young people (aged 12-25) living with cancer, including their family and carers.
  • More than 70 per cent of all newly diagnosed adolescent and young adult cancer patients are seen by CanTeen’s Youth Cancer Services program.
  • CanTeen is well placed to facilitate specialist trial activity and develop appropriate recruitment strategies for this disadvantaged group.
  • This investment strategically builds the Government’s 2016 Encouraging more clinical trials in Australia initiative that seeks to streamline trial operations to improve start-up and recruitment efforts.


  • CanTeen will administer this competitive research program.
  • Trials will be selected based on scientific rigour and ability to address the high burden and unmet need facing adolescents and young adults with cancer.
  • Call for proposals are expected in early 2017-18.
  • Where possible, private sector co-investment opportunities will be explored and international researcher collaborations established.

Medical Research Future Fund

The Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) demonstrates the Government’s strong commitment to research and innovation. The MRFF provides a long term sustainable source of funding for endeavours that aim to improve health outcomes, quality of life and health system sustainability.

The MRFF will double direct Australian Government funding for health and medical research.

The MRFF is a dedicated vehicle for priority investment in health and medical research.

The MRFF, established under the Medical Research Future Fund Act 2015, provides grants of financial assistance to support health and medical research and innovation in improving the health and wellbeing of Australians. It operates as an endowment fund with the capital preserved in perpetuity. At maturity, the MRFF will reach $20 billion.

The first disbursements from the MRFF focus on translating research into real health benefits, breakthrough investments in new technologies and challenges, and enhancing Australia’s reputation for research excellence and leadership.

Over $65 million will be injected into a range of programs that cut across the research pipeline – fuelling new discoveries and the translation and commercialisation of great Australian ideas.

Advisory Board

The Australian Medical Research Advisory Board, established in accordance with the MRFF Act, is responsible for consulting on and developing a five-yearly Strategy that sets out the vision, aims and objectives for the MRFF and an accompanying two-yearly list of Priorities. Government must consider the Strategy and Priorities in making MRFF investment decisions.

Strategy 2016-2021

Vision: A health system fully informed by quality health and medical research.

Identifies key strategic investment platforms that set to position Australia to meet future healthcare challenges:

  • Strategic and international horizons
  • Data and infrastructure
  • Health services and systems research
  • Capacity and collaboration
  • Trials and translation
  • Commercialisation

Priorities 2016-2018

The first MRFF disbursements address identified Priorities under each strategic platform, are a mix of strategic investments, and use a range of administrative mechanisms to maximise impact. More disbursements will occur in 2017-18.

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