World First Cancer Centre Targets Childhood Leukemia

A world-leading Australian research centre will analyse cancer proteins with the aim of improving diagnosis and treatment, initially focussing on childhood leukemia.

Page last updated: 16 September 2016

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16 September 2016

A world-leading Australian research centre will analyse cancer proteins with the aim of improving diagnosis and treatment, initially focussing on childhood leukemia.

The International Centre for the Proteome of Human Cancer (ProCan), located at the Children’s Medical Research Institute in Westmead, Sydney, officially opened today by Assistant Minister for Rural Health, Dr David Gillespie.

Dr Gillespie represented Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the opening of the centre, which is funded by the Australian Cancer Research Foundation.

“This centre is part of a new wave of cutting edge Australian cancer research which is taking our efforts and our knowledge to new levels through international collaboration,” Dr Gillespie said.

ProCan uses PCT-SWATH mass spectrometry to very rapidly analyse the proteins in cancer cells. Advanced computer analysis will then compare the protein data with information about actual cancers in people – such as pathology tests, genetic analysis, and response to cancer treatment.

“That gives it the potential to connect white coat laboratory work with people’s real experiences of cancer,” Dr Gillespie said.

“As a doctor, as a father, and as the Assistant Minister for Rural Health, I know that families all over Australia will feel relief at the decision to initially focus on childhood leukaemia.”

“It’s terrible when anyone is diagnosed with cancer; but never worse than when a possible death sentence is hanging over your child or grandchild.”

The research may lead to accurate diagnosis of a type of cancer within 36 hours of receiving a tumour biopsy. It could also indicate what type of treatment would be most effective for the individual patient.

Dr Gillespie said ProCan’s work would complement the $20 million Zero Childhood Cancer Initiative election commitment made by the Prime Minister in May.

The aim of this initiative is to create a network connecting research centres in every major Australian city to give every child diagnosed with cancer access to the best therapy for their specific disease and their individual genetic characteristics.

“Standing proudly alongside the work of the ProCan Centre and others, it would confirm Australia as a world leader in personalised medicine for childhood cancer,” Dr Gillespie said.

The Coalition Government has also committed to provide funding to improve access to cancer clinical trials for adolescents and young adults with cancer.

Dr Gillespie said there had never been an Australian Government more committed to supporting innovation and research, with medical research and cancer research among the top priorities.

“In addition to over two billion dollars invested in cancer research by the National Health and Medical Research Council since 2000, the Medical Research Future fund created by the Coalition Government, will provide $400 million over the next four years, rising to around $1 billion per year for medical research by 2023-24.

Dr Gillespie said that co-operation between the US and Australia on health and medical research continued to deepen following US Vice President Biden's visit in July.

For more information, contact the Minister's Office on (02) 6277 4960

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