This latest Victorian Cancer Agency funding round will support Murdoch Children's Research Institute with more than $250,000 over three years to investigate a new approach to cancer treatment called ‘personalised medicine’.
Lead by Dr Maria McCarthy, this research aims to identify specific drugs to target cancerous tumours by analysing an individual’s unique DNA sequence in a bid to move away from the one size fits all approach that has traditionally been taken in treating cancer and other disease.
Recent data shows that in 2014, 30,585 Victorians were diagnosed with cancer and 10,744 died from the disease – this equates to 84 new diagnoses and 29 deaths every day.
The five-year survival rate for Victorians diagnosed with cancer is now 67 per cent compared to 60 per cent five years ago and 47 per cent 20 years ago – a testament to the ongoing investment in cancer prevention, treatment and research in Victoria.
Many rare and relapsed childhood cancers are difficult to cure, and Dr McCarthy says personalised medicine as an approach to cancer treatment is an exciting new field, but there are many complex issues that require further attention.
“There are ethical questions about which patients should be offered genomic sequencing, who should pay for this and for potentially expensive experimental drugs, and how risks should be managed,” said Dr McCarthy.
This study will identify preferences of families and healthcare professionals, develop an ethical framework to help decision-making and create much-needed informational and educational resources.