Latest News 13/2012
New centre Australia’s first to match treatments to patients’ genetics
Australia’s first research centre devoted to matching disease treatments to a person’s genetic makeup will be officially launched today.
The Ian Potter Centre for Genomics and Personalised Medicine, a joint collaboration between Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, will initially focus on immune disorders and cancer.
The Ian Potter Foundation has committed $3 million to the centre, which will see researchers from the two institutes combining their skills and expertise to harness the power of new genomic sequencing technologies.
The centre will offer new insights into childhood and adult diseases with a focus on immune disorders and cancer. In particular, projects will use genomics to examine food allergy in children, juvenile arthritis, leukaemia, neural tumours and colon cancer.
Professor Liam O’Connor, head of the Systems Biology and Personalised Medicine division at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute said the objective of the centre was to make discoveries that will allow personalised therapies to be delivered to patients, improving their clinical outcomes. “One of the major sources of inefficiency in our health care system is the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to treatment,” Professor O’Connor said. “Whether we consider the use of therapies for rheumatoid arthritis or conventional chemotherapy for cancer, many people embarking on a generic treatment plan may gain little or no benefit. This has major implications for the patient and for the healthcare system.”
Professor Andrew Sinclair from the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute said if patients were to derive maximum benefit from new therapies then scientists must become more adept at identifying patients who will respond positively to treatments. “Through this centre we will use highly specialised equipment to process patient samples and analyse their genetic composition so doctors can use this knowledge to match their profile to the best treatment plan,” Professor Sinclair said.
Mrs Janet Hirst, chief executive officer of The Ian Potter Foundation said the Centre for Genomics and Personalised Medicine would hold a unique place in Australia, offering patients access to the large-scale technologies that have made personalised medicine possible. “We are delighted that Australians will be able to benefit from these pivotal new technologies,” Mrs Hirst said. “These new methods provide a window into the micro world of our bodies and we expect they will have a profound impact on the pace of research into cancer and other major health conditions.”
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