• Australian-first lab aims to remove cancer care barriers

    Innovative cancer treatments will soon be more accessible for regional patients following the launch of a new laboratory in Sydney, which aims to remove systemic barriers to care and reduce resources waste.

    Based at the Mt Kuring-gai facility of Slade Health – the compounding arm of leading cancer care provider Icon Group – the state-of-the-art Drug Stability Testing and Research Laboratory is the first of its kind in Australia.

    It aims to extend the limited shelf life of compounded cancer treatments, which must be completed under controlled sterile conditions to ensure patient safety, from the usual 24-hour window to up to 90 days.

    This will give more flexibility to patients, especially those who must travel large distances from regional areas to metropolitan clinics to receive life-saving doses of treatments such as chemotherapy.

    “The reality for cancer patients is that they aren’t always well enough to travel and receive treatment on a specific day,” said Dr Larissa Gomes dos Reis, Senior Scientist at Slade Health.

    “This means individuals’ treatments aren’t always able to be used, which is a huge cost burden for hospitals and means both patients and clinicians can be left waiting for the next available batch.

    “An improved shelf-life of up to 90 days enables patients to be treated closer to home, supports the practical usage of innovative treatments without wastage, and provides more flexible options for clinicians when prescribing the best course of treatment.”

    Icon Group has more than 30 cancer centres across Australia, many of them in partnership with private hospitals.

    It hopes the new laboratory will not only generate the robust scientific data needed to show Slade Health’s treatments are stable and safe to use for longer than 24 hours, but also help its comprehensive care providers to offer the latest personalised targeted therapies. 

    These are being made possible by the advent of complex molecules such as mRNA, vaccine, gene, and cell technologies, which will require new systems to compound the treatments and deliver them to patients in a timely way.

    Icon Group Executive Director David Slade, also CEO of Slade Health, said the Stability Lab was “a critical step forward in underpinning the best cancer care possible”.

    “With Slade Health’s extensive manufacturing capacity and now the ability to generate robust scientific data to support extended shelf-life, Australian cancer patients and clinicians can safely access the latest treatments regardless of where they live,” he said.

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