Date published: 
15 September 2018
Media type: 
Media release
General public

The Morrison Government is investing $1 million to expand a rare cancers clinical trial being conducted by the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute to reach patients living in regional areas.

The trial is focused on three rare cancers – gastrointestinal, neuroendocrine and genitourinary – and involves the immunotherapy drugs Ipilimumab and Nivolumab.

The Government’s investment will enable the trial to be expanded to include up to 60 patients living in northern Victoria and southern New South Wales.

The expansion of the trial into these regional areas will mean regional patients will not have to travel to Melbourne to be part of the trial.

The trial is investigating reasons behind how the immune system responds to the drugs.

This can then be used to determine which cancers are most likely to respond to treatment, and which won’t. This will help ensure patients aren’t given treatments that won’t work.

Tragically, many thousands of Australians die from rare and less common cancers each year.

The survival rate for rare and less common cancers is only 52 per cent, which is far lower than the 77 per cent for common types of cancer.

In 2015, rare and less common cancers accounted for more than 24,000 deaths in Australia – more than half the deaths caused by cancer.

The Morrison Government is proud to partner up with the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute, which undertakes vital work and is led by the inspirational Olivia Newton-John.

The $1 million is being provided through the Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) – established to provide a sustainable source of funding for vital medical research over the medium to longer term.

The latest investment to accelerate research is in addition to the $36.6 million already announced through the MRFF Rare Cancers, Rare Diseases and Unmet Need Clinical Trials initiative.

The 2018-19 Budget provided a record $7 billion to Australia’s health and medical research sector, including $1.3 billion for a health and medical research industry growth plan to drive a new era of better health care and fuel jobs and growth.