World leading Victorian medical researchers have pioneered a revolutionary new drug that will change how we treat blood cancers into the future and around the globe.
Minister for Health Jill Hennessy joined the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and the Royal Melbourne Hospital today to announce the results of two clinical trials into venetoclax – the drug that virtually melts cancer away.
“Victoria is home to the world’s best and brightest medical minds. These studies cement our reputation as a world leader in cutting edge blood cancer research,” said Minister for Health Jill Hennessy. “Venetoclax stems from a Melbourne-born medical discovery that will save lives around the world.”
Venetoclax is a tablet drug that was developed based on the discovery of the protein BCL-2 at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne. The drug treats cancer by reducing the activity of BCL-2.
Two recent international studies have delivered remarkable results for hard-to-treat patients with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia and Mantle-Cell Lymphoma which will provide a major shift in cancer treatment.
When combined with other standard immunotherapy treatments, venetoclax has seen a high number of these blood cancer patients be cancer free.
The global MURANO study showed venetoclax should replace chemotherapy altogether when treating certain forms of blood cancer, with more than 80 per cent of patients showing little or no detectable trace of cancer in their blood.
This drug not only has the power to save lives – but to also significantly improve the quality of life in cancer patients with reduced side effects from the replacement of chemotherapy.
The Andrews Labor Government’s Healthier Lives, Stronger Economy: Victoria’s Health and Medical Research Strategy 2016-2020 outlines key priorities over four years to support new and evolving fields of medical research. It’s delivered an additional $20 million to ensure Victoria stays a world leader in medical research.
Since being established by the former Labor Government in 2006, the Victorian Cancer Agency has invested over $190 million into translational cancer research, including funding towards one of the venetoclax clinical trials. In addition, our Victorian cancer plan 2016-2020 set an ambitious target of saving 10,000 lives from cancer by 2025.
“We said we wanted 10,000 lives saved from cancer by 2025 – and we meant it,” said Jill Hennessy.
“We’re supporting our researchers to shine on the world stage and uncover new and more effective cancer treatments, like Venetoclax.”
More people are surviving cancer than ever before. The five-year survival rate for Victorians diagnosed with cancer has increased from 48 per cent in 1986 to 68 per cent in 2016 thanks to investments in cancer prevention, treatment and research.