The prognosis for a rare cancer is bleaker than the average cancer.
More than 180 different types of rare and less common cancers have been diagnosed so far. Most are so rare, no effective treatment has been found.
But now, thanks to the work of a committed group of researchers and clinicians across Australia, there is new hope.
In a unique collaboration between the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, the Royal Adelaide Hospital and SA Pathology, we are poised to embark on a brand-new Genomic research project that will identify new treatments for rare cancers.
The Australian Genomic Cancer Medicine Program will take place in research facilities in Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne, Hobart, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane. Out of an estimated group of 3000 people with rare cancers across Australia, up to 600 will be accepted to take part in genetic and clinical trials.
Samples taken from surgery or biopsy will undergo a laboratory process, where DNA will be extracted. This DNA will then be assessed via Next Generation DNA Sequencing (NGS).
This is research on a massive scale. We will be using equipment that undertakes millions of sequencing reactions at a time, and high performance computers that help us to understand the data. The NGS machine can run up to 20 billion DNA sequencing reactions from cancer samples at a time.
To bring this project to life, we need to add specialised skilled people to interpret the data, and world-class researchers and analysts to our team. We also need to install state-of-the-art equipment.
Our participation in an Australia-wide research project, combining data from other rare cancers, will provide new opportunities and new hope.
Importantly, this clinical trial is located right here in Adelaide. Some cancer patients travel hundreds of kilometres, while feeling desperately unwell, to participate in interstate trials, seeking hope for treatment and cure.