Greg Hunt

Federal Member for Flinders | Minister for Health

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$69 million boost for fight against rare cancers and rare diseases

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

$69 million boost for fight against rare cancers and rare diseases
The Turnbull Government is supporting Australia’s best and brightest medical researchers in their fight against rare cancers and rare diseases with a $69 million boost announced today.

This funding includes more than $26 million for nineteen research projects as part of the landmark Medical Research Future Fund’s Rare Cancers, Rare Diseases and Unmet Needs Clinical Trials Program.

These projects will undertake clinical trials for devastating conditions like acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in infants, aplastic anaemia, multiple sclerosis and Huntington’s disease.

This is a significant boost on the $13 million that was originally flagged when we called for applications and reflects the incredibly high calibre of medical research that is happening right here in Australia.

Researchers at the University of New South Wales will test a vaccine to target glioblastoma, a lethal brain cancer and the most frequent cause of cancer deaths in children and young people.

Another clinical trial at the University of Queensland will evaluate the benefits of medicinal cannabis for people with advanced cancer, and define the role of the drug for patients with cancer in palliative care.

Monash University is researching a new preventive treatment for graft versus host disease following a bone marrow transplant which could halve instances of the life-threatening complication, while a trial by the University of Western Australia to simultaneously compare a range of cystic fibrosis treatments may lead to improved care for this complex disease.

Other trials will explore the effectiveness and safety of aspirin compared to heparin to treat blood clots and test a new triple therapy regimen to target rare viral-driven brain lymphomas.

While we have seen improved survival rates for high incidence cancers such as bowel cancer, rates for rare cancers have remained relatively unchanged for some time. 

In fact, rare cancers with low survival rates accounted for 47 per cent of all cancer deaths in 2014.

For people living with a rare disease and the medical professionals treating them, there are significant challenges including diagnostic delays, lack of available treatments and difficulty in finding the appropriate care.

We are committed to continuing to invest in research to find the answers to these challenges.

The overwhelming response to this Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) clinical trial grant round demonstrates that there is plenty of research talent and enthusiasm to tackle rare cancers and rare diseases.

In recognition of this need and opportunity, the Turnbull Government will shortly open a targeted grant round worth $10 million for research into rare cancers and rare diseases with low survival rates.

And an additional $33 million worth of grants will be made available under the MRFF in 2018-19 to carry on this important work with a prioritised focus on rare cancers, rare diseases and unmet need.

I am also delighted to announce today the members of the Strategic Advisory Group which will support the $100 million Australian Brain Cancer Mission.

The Mission is a partnership between the Federal Government, philanthropists, medical experts, patients and their families.

It’s aim is to double survival rates for people living with brain cancer over the next 10 years. 

Members of the Strategic Advisory Group are Professor Adele Green AC, (Chair), Professor Douglas Hilton AO, Ms Sarah Mamalai, Mr Dustin Perry, Ms Robyn Leonard, Dr Chris Fraser, Professor Mark Rosenthal, A/Professor Rosalind Jeffree, Professor Grant McArthur, Professor Brandon Wainwright, Professor Andrew Scott AM, Ms Michelle Stewart, and Ms Michelle Burke.

The Turnbull Government recognises the importance of clinical trials to drive new ideas and achieve new discoveries that bring improvements to quality of life and survival rates.

Investing in health and medical research creates better health outcomes for Australians and the more-than $69 million announced today will help ensure our nation’s strong reputation as a global leader in medical research continues.

(ENDS)

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© Greg Hunt MP 2016 | Authorised by Greg Hunt MP, Liberal Member for Flinders, Hastings, Victoria
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