Today, the Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, announced that a re-elected Coalition government would fund the $20 million Zero Childhood Cancer Initiative, which will partner with leading health and medical research institutes, including the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) in the fight against childhood cancer.
The Zero Childhood Cancer program will provide personalised treatments for children with untreatable cancers; once they are diagnosed with cancer, they will have a tissue sample taken and analysed to determine their genetics and be treated accordingly.
Zero Childhood Cancer will operate on a hub and spoke model by establishing a national network with the Children’s Cancer Institute as the hub, connecting clinical and research collaborators in every major city.
The Children’s Cancer Institute has an established, long-standing collaboration with leading SAHMRI researchers in the field of high-risk Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL), the most common childhood cancer.
SAHMRI’s Director of Cancer Research and Deputy Cancer Theme Leader, Professor Deborah White, said the team at SAHMRI are world leaders in the identification of known/novel genetic aberrations associated with high-risk ALL cases, using state-of-the art flow cytometry and genetic profiling methodology.
“Building on this expertise, the South Australian node of the Zero Childhood Cancer program will play a key role in the molecular analysis of paediatric ALL and Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, which can then be integrated with the response of patients’ mouse avatar models to molecular targeted drugs,” Professor White said.
“Our partners will provide a high level of expert advice on the significance of rare genetic mutations likely to be found by whole genome approaches, which will be key to developing targeted therapies for these children.”
Professor White added that SAHMRI is thrilled to be part of this national collaboration in the area of personalised medicine, that will ensure that Australia remains a leader in this important area of health and medical research.
“We are talking cutting edge research, which is able to determine the best treatment to improve chances of recovery and survival for our future generations,” she said.