$50m cancer trial to offer personalised drugs
ALMOST 600 Queenslanders will have their cancer's DNA tested to identify the drugs that will keep them alive for longer under a revolutionary $50 million, world-leading trial.
In a turning point for medicine in Australia, each individual patient will be given personalised drugs that will best fight their unique cell mutation.
Health Minister Greg Hunt will today announce the new national Australian Genomic Cancer Medicine Program, which will help 5000 patients with rare cancers over four years.
Currently treatment for cancer is a one-size fits all approach but the program gives hope to many people who have been told the conventional system will not help save them.
It means doctors will be able to determine that a patient with breast cancer, for example, would benefit if given drugs used to fight another type of cancer. Currently that is not done.
Oncologists will refer patients to participate in trials, which will be held in home states to help keep people closer to loved ones.
For Gold Coast mother of two Lejla Meduselac, the trial offers hope at a time when chemotherapy has failed to stop her deadly and aggressive adrenal gland cancer.
Miss Meduselac, who was given six months to live three years ago, said no drug had yet been identified that would help her but hasn't given up.
"It (the cancer) has metastasised in my lungs, liver, lymph nodes and stomach. If only I knew how I got it,'' she said.
"It was very difficult at the beginning but I have hope for my kids."
Mr Hunt said Queensland patients did not have to go to Melbourne to try to stay alive.
"This world-leading treatment means Queensland patients can access lifesaving support without needing to travel interstate," Mr Hunt told The Courier-Mail.
"This will help some of our sickest Queensland patients in their battle against cancer.
"And it will extend the lives of so many more, offering hope and delivering more time for so many families."
He said genomic testing would transform prevention, prediction, diagnosis and treatment of disease.
He said the program would bring together Australia's eight major cancer centres and three leading research institutes, including the Garvan Institute and Kinghorn Cancer Centre in Sydney, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and Peter Mac in Melbourne and the Royal Adelaide Hospital.
In Queensland, the trials will work in conjunction with the Princess Alexandra Hospital.