The University of Melbourne Centre for Cancer Research seeks to redefine the standard of care for cancer patients, with a focus on rare, recalcitrant and advanced cancers that are resistant to standard therapies.
Currently, many patients endure expensive, ineffective and toxic treatments before an effective one is found. Others who cannot endure the rotation through therapies often never find their effective treatment.
The UMCCR is developing precision oncology, that will ultimately mean improved survival rates and greater quality of life. The centre’s research programs focus on four themes:
All personalised medicine depends on tools to detect, diagnose, classify and monitor cancer using advanced molecular approaches. Clinicians need to be able to decode the genetic damage present in each patient’s cancer genome.
The single biggest challenge in precision oncology is that its success relies on “Big Data” solutions. Decoding cancer genomes in clinically useful timeframes requires increasingly intensive bioinformatics analysis. The UMCCR is building a genome informatics core for large-scale cancer genome analysis under the direction of Associate Professor Oliver Hofmann, who previously led national cancer genome analysis for Scotland and bioinformatics core facilities at Harvard.
Innovative cancer care
Over time, genomic information will be integrated into many aspects of clinical care. This will affect decisions such as risk stratification on diagnosis, selecting optimal therapies, predicting the risk of adverse reactions, adaptation of patient risk assessments when cancer returns; and how to maximise quality of life for patients in advanced stages of disease.
The UMCCR is developing new frameworks for accelerating the translation of novel molecular discoveries into routine clinical practice by encouraging novel clinical trial design
Ultimately, the best way to improve cancer statistics is through prevention. Genomics is providing us with unprecedented insights into the genetic determinants of cancer risk and how they interact with environmental factors. UMCCR researchers are already international leaders actively involved in refining individual risk prediction and pioneering cancer prevention strategies into primary care.