Cancer patients will have access to the latest treatments, including immunotherapy and cellular therapy, thanks to a new link between researchers and care providers.
QIMR Berghofer, Queensland’s leading medical research institute, and the Icon Group, Australia’s largest dedicated cancer care provider, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on World Cancer Day.
Icon Group director of research, Dr John Bashford, said it was exciting two world leaders in their fields would be working together to provide better outcomes for cancer patients.
“Icon is the largest provider of private cancer care in Australia and this MOU with QIMR Berghofer is a natural link,” Dr Bashford said.
“It means that we will be able to offer patients access to the best and newest treatments.
“There’s two areas we’re really excited about – one being immunotherapy, that’s really the holy grail of treating cancer and QIMR are making great strides in that area.
“We really hope to being able to help them facilitate that, getting from the lab, to the Phase I trials, to the patients.
“Second is cellular therapy – I’m sure you’re familiar with bone marrow transplants – this is the next level, really using cells to attack cancer.”
The head of QIMR Berghofer’s cancer program, Associate Professor Steven Lane, said the formalised agreement would provide important opportunities to translate research into clinical practice.
“QIMR Berghofer has one of the largest and most successful cancer programs in Australia, comprising 30 research groups and encompassing 17 types of cancer,” he said.
“This is a great opportunity to partner with Icon Group to test the treatments developed in our laboratories, using their state-of-the-art cancer care clinics.
“Icon’s large patient cohort may also provide information that can be used to help QIMR Berghofer researchers find new cancer targets that may lead to new treatment options.”
Cancer accounts for about three in 10 deaths in Australia, making it the second most common cause of death nationally.
“QIMR Berghofer’s Q-Gen Cell Therapeutics facility, based in Brisbane, is a leader in manufacturing adoptive T cell therapies for Phase I and II clinical trials, and it’s important for our patients that we can provide them access to such cutting-edge health developments,” Dr Bashford said.
“This agreement with QIMR Berghofer will help us find new and better ways of treating the thousands of cancer patients who turn to us wanting to be part of clinical trials in Australia.
“It’s an exciting step in bringing together Queensland based researchers and a leading Queensland founded health care company, to build a relationship that benefits people with cancer in Australia and more widely, the Asia-Pacific region.”
Dr Bashford has spent 30 years working in the field of cancer treatment.
“For us, this is a logical step, a natural step, to be involved with a researcher like QIMR, that is a local group with a global footprint.
“I think it says a lot about the private sector’s ability to take the lead in this area and this is a relationship (with QIMR) that we have been keen to foster,” he said.