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Cancer patients to benefit from industrial scale proteome project

September 16, 2016

The official opening of the ACRF International Centre for the Proteome of Cancer (ProCanTM) at the Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI) today, marks the beginning of the world’s first industrial scale cancer proteome analysis project.

In the next five to seven years, ProCanTM will analyse thousands of proteins in 70,000 samples of all types of cancer, generating a database that will be made accessible worldwide.

By combining this data with information on how the tumour has responded to treatment, researchers and clinicians are hoping to predict with increased accuracy how a tumour in another cancer patient responds to a particular treatment. The project aims to shorten the time frame of a cancer diagnosis to just 24-36 hours.

CMRI Director, Professor Roger Reddel, who is also co-leader of ProCanTM, said that ProCanTM is very simple in concept but massive in scale.

“We believe the results of ProCanTM will greatly improve the speed and accuracy of cancer diagnosis and provide clinicians an enhanced capability to choose the most effective treatment option for each individual patient’s cancer and, importantly, to avoid those treatments that are likely to be unsuccessful. This will reduce treatment toxicity and improve cancer treatment outcomes in children and adults – worldwide.”

ProCanTM has been established with a AUD $10 million grant awarded by the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) last December. The project has also been awarded a significant boost from the NSW Government to help fund crucial ‘big data’ analysis infrastructure and expertise. Scientists in Australia will work in collaboration with technology experts in Zurich, as well as cancer researchers globally to progress this initiative.

Recently ProCanTM attracted the attention of US Vice President, Joe Biden, which led to CMRI signing a landmark Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the US National Cancer Institute as part of the Cancer Moonshot initiative. As announced last week, one of the ten ‘Cancer Moonshot’ project goals is now to mine past patient data to predict future patient outcomes.

Professor Ian Brown, CEO of the Australian Cancer Research Foundation said that, “The agreement signed with the Whitehouse will ensure that all resources and knowledge gained from the establishment of ProCanTM are international in focus and affiliation”.

“It is terrific to see ProCan attract additional attention and investment.”

Project co-leader, Professor Phil Robinson at CMRI, said that the project has a clear goal of using ProCan’s results to develop technologies that will greatly improve the diagnosis and personalised treatment of cancer.

“For me, as a scientist, what we’ll learn about cancer is equally exciting — the biology of cancer and the control pathways affected in cancer cells — which will lead us in uncharted directions, generating fresh ideas and new discoveries that could help develop new and better treatments.”

“Cancer is just the start. The potential of this technology goes far beyond cancer – we plan to extend this research technology to the study of many other diseases,” Professor Robinson concluded.

Find out more about ProCanTM at http://procan.cancerresearch

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