VCCC Alliance welcomes $1.89bn Federal Government health research package

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VCCC Alliance Chief Executive, Professor Grant McArthur AO has welcomed today’s announcement from Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care, The Hon Mark Butler MP, to invest in a $1.89 billion Health Research for a Future Made in Australia package and the development of a new National Health and Medical Research Strategy.

In particular, Prof McArthur applauded the investment in a Low Survival Cancers Mission, to focus on improving outcomes for people with cancer with five-year survival rates of less than 50 per cent. This includes common cancers such as pancreatic, lung and liver cancer – all of which have been a focus of the alliance’s current program of work.


“The VCCC Alliance has a significant focus on improving outcomes for low survival cancers including brain, lung, pancreatic and liver,” Prof McArthur said. “Our Centre for Cancer Immunotherapy, supported by VCCC Alliance funding, is developing new approaches to treating chronic Hepatitis B infection and liver cancer using cutting-edge mRNA technology.”

The laboratory-based research is testing an RNA-based technology to destroy the Hepatitis B virus’s ability to spread to uninfected liver cells. By eradicating the virus early, the inflammation can subside, and liver cancer is far less likely to develop. A second program of research is exploring how to make immune-based cancer therapies more effective in liver cancer, by understanding how liver cancer suppresses the immune system and developing mRNA vaccines to use against hepatitis B and the cancer itself.

Liver cancer patients have a very low survival rate of only 23 per cent. In 2023 there were almost 3,050 new liver cancer diagnoses, and 2,545 people died from the disease. Liver cancer disproportionately affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

If successfully translated to clinical studies, the new approach could help close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian’s cancer outcomes.

The next phase of the Centre’s work, which is dependent on new funding, will focus on virus-driven cancers which account for 25 per cent of all cancers. “Our virus-driven cancer research program will give us the opportunity to lead the world in ground-breaking liver cancer treatment and prevention. However, this will only be possible with a marked increase in funding in initiatives such as the Centre for Cancer Immunotherapy,” Prof McArthur said.

Prof McArthur also welcomed the Federal government’s National One Stop Shop for Clinical Trials initiative, to harmonise and nationalise administration and regulation, and establish an “easy-to-use website which will help patients, researchers and industry find, conduct and participate in clinical trials and research”.

“Clinical trials are a vital part of bringing new innovations in health care to Australians, and the National One Stop Shop should improve both the access and ability for Australians to participate in clinical trials.”

“We look forward to working with the Federal Government to achieve these very important outcomes, which are absolutely critical at a time when we are seeing the incidence of cancer increase in Australia from 88,000 cases a year in 2000 to more than 200,000 cases a year expected by 2033 – a huge increase mostly related to both population growth and the aging population,” Prof McArthur said.

Source: VCCC Alliance


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The ONA Editor curates oncology news, views and reviews from Australia and around the world for our readers. In aggregated content, original sources will be acknowledged in the article footer.

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