Inherited cancer centre opening in Tasmania

Tasmanian Minister for Health, Michelle O’Byrne today – Tuesday September 28 – opened the $1.1 million ACRF Tasmanian Inherited Cancer Centre at the Menzies Research Institute Tasmania in Hobart.

“The ACRF Inherited Cancer Centre enables our researchers to fast track their crucial research into preventing or finding better treatments for inherited cancers,” said Menzies’ Director, Professor Simon Foote.

Inherited cancers are those in which family history is a high risk factor. These can include prostate cancer and leukaemia. Research at the new Centre focuses on further identification of the genes underlying the causes of these cancers as well as their environmental triggers. Such work has already led to a greater understanding of the disease and in some cases, significant advances in treatments. Tasmania, like Iceland and the Canadian city of Montreal, offers researchers opportunities to study populations that are comparatively isolated and stable. “Menzies cancer research program is a gift from Tasmania, not only to the rest of Australia, but to the world,” said Tom Dery, chairman of the ACRF.

“The ACRF Inherited Cancer Centre is a world class facility that brings together geneticists, biologists, clinicians and ethicists who are committed to identifying genes that predispose people to cancer”.

“It draws on a number of skills and initiatives already underway at Menzies and elsewhere in Tasmania”. “The work done at the ACRF Centre will do much to lift the shadow of fear from those with a family history of cancer,” Mr Dery said.

New technologies in use at the ACRF Centre include a customised robot that rapidly screens for potential genetic markers that are important to identifying the onset and progress of disease as well as a laser microscope that can select individual cells and chromosomes.

“The ACRF Centre also provides our researchers with advanced IT infrastructure for our genealogical database and genetic analyses, enabling us to take advantage of the latest advances in gene analysis technology,” Professor Foote said. “This is not only vital for our current research programs but also vital for the expansion of our program to include other cancers”.

“This new technology can save us years of research and boost better outcomes for people with cancer”.

“These advances would not be possible without the support of organisations such as the Australian Cancer Research Foundation,” he said.

The ACRF Inherited Cancer Centre at the Menzies Research Institute Tasmania is part of the multi-million dollar development of Hobart’s innovative Medical Science Precinct. Menzies was established in the late 1980s and has since developed into a centre of international renown. Its research aims to achieve advances in knowledge and to contribute to the translation of that knowledge into clinical benefits for the whole community. $1.1 million dollars was awarded to develop the ACRF Inherited Cancer Centre in 2007.

The Foundation’s Medical Research Advisory Committee, led by Professor Ian Frazer, recommended that the Australian Cancer Research Foundation support the hugely important and highly impressive work of the Menzies.

Read Backgrounder: Tasmanian Inherited Cancer Research Program

Visit Grant Page: Menzies Research Institute, Tasmania

Contact:  Cheryl Riddington (ACRF) on 02 9223 7833 or criddington@acrf.com.au