New cancer facility to help deliver personalised medicine

June 14 / 139

An artist's rendition of the future VCCC building.
An artist's rendition of the future VCCC building.

Information generated by several new machines will soon help researchers and clinicians match the right treatments with individual patients’ diseases. 

Cancer researchers at the University and the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC) will establish the first facility in Australia dedicated to applying these new technologies to individual patients’ tumours. 

It was funded by a $2 million research grant from the Australian Cancer Research Fund (ACRF). 

The funding will buy a range of different instruments that measure cancer-associated proteins to work out how likely a patient’s tumour is to respond to the sorts of targeted drugs used in personalised medicine. 

Next-generation, patient-specific chemotherapies are becoming increasingly more targeted at proteins that are switched on in tumour cells, the cell’s proteome. 

Head of Pathology Paul Waring said the ACRF funding would help to fit out a specialised facility within the new and existing laboratories of the VCCC collaboration to be used by all the partners. 

“As our understanding of cancer increases, researchers and clinicians believe that to predict cancer pathways, new diagnostic-grade tools are needed to assist in interpreting changes in both the genes and the proteins in cancer cells,” Professor Waring said.

“Single gene tests alone are not enough to predict the pathways that cancer cells take.”   

ACRF chairman Tom Dery said the ACRF prioritises life-changing research for its grants. 

“This application from the VCCC was highly recommended by the world-class scientists, including Professor Ian Frazer as part of our Medical Research Advisory Committee.”

Clinical investigators on this project are from five members of the VCCC alliance: the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne Health, the University of Melbourne, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research and the Royal Women’s Hospital.

The new $2 million facility will be commissioned by June 2015 at the University and then moved to the new VCCC building in 2016.

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