Australian gov't announces new initiatives to help combat rare cancers

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Cancer
Preparations of media for cultivating cancer cells, being made in cancer research laboratories at the Old Road Campus research building at Oxford University, in Oxford, Britain May 11, 2016. Reuters/Peter Nicholls

The Turnbull government is backing up new initiatives that seek to improve access to clinical trials, specifically for adults and children with rare cancers. The government has recently announced that Aussie kids will soon have access to Aim Brain, a new genetic testing that aims to transform brain tumour classification and treatment.

It was announced in a media release at health.gov.au that Aussie kids will have access to the test starting October. It ultimately aims to transform the survival of kids with brain cancer.

Through Aim Brain, there will be access to international research collaborations of paediatric brain cancer headed by the Australian New Zealand Children’s Haematology and Oncology Group. The government is also reportedly building technical and research capacity to undertake molecular diagnostic profiling of children with brain cancer, tailor personal treatment and refine diagnosis of a tumour.

The new measures would assist in providing children with better and targeted treatments. It is expected to result to greater chances of success, better quality of life and improved quality of treatment. Unnecessary treatments that would not work for particular patients would be avoided.

The Aim Brain four-year study will reportedly be co-funded by the Robert Connor Dawes Foundation. In the Budget, $79 million for cancer research was announced.

Cancer is the leading cause of death from disease in Aussie kids. It represents the nation’s largest burden of disease.

Brain cancer, for instance, affects young people. This type of cancer has killed more people under 25 years in Australia than any other cancer.

The government also announced that funding of $13 million is now available for competitive research grants from the Medical Research Future Fund. The latest research program seeks to boost clinical trial and registry activity. It focuses on under-researched health priorities like rare cancers and diseases, with improved survival rates of childhood brain cancer as one of top priorities of government investments.

Brain cancer research is perceived as pivotal in improving survival rates and outcomes for adults and children with brain cancer, their families and communities. The announcements come ahead of a Brain Cancer Research Roundtable in Melbourne this week.

Minister for Health Greg Hunt, during a press conference in Melbourne regarding children’s brain cancer announcements, also talked about the importance of vaccination. “Vaccination saves lives, and it protects lives, and it is absolutely fundamental,” he said, according to a transcript of the press conference.

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