Melanoma Genome Project will map out future for skin cancer cures

Melanoma cancer researchNSW Minister for Health and Medical Research, the Hon. Jillian Skinner has today officially launched the Australian Melanoma Genome Project, an ambitious cancer research program that aims to identify the common gene mutations that lead to melanoma.

The $5.5 million project could take 2-5 years and is being undertaken by a research coalition of teams from the Melanoma Institute Australia, the University of Sydney, Westmead Millennium Institute, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, NSW Health Pathology and the Queensland Institute of Medical Research.

More than 500 melanoma tumour samples will be screened and analysed in order to determine common genetic characteristics for this most deadly and prevalent type of cancer.

Professor Rick Kefford, Director of the Westmead Institute for Cancer Research has indicated that Australian researchers are particularly well placed to undertake this study, with access to records dating back to the 1960s, and some of the largest melanoma tissue biobanks in the world.

“There’s a whole set of diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic outcomes from this down the track,” he said.

Executive Director of the Melanoma Institute Australia, Professor John Thompson added, “It will allow us to expedite this important research and deliver meaningful outcomes to the people in our community who need it most.

“We would be surprised if this work does not translate into a major extension of life for thousands of people worldwide.”

The ACRF is proud to be associated with this work, having provided $5 million to the Westmead Institute of Cancer Research just last year to support their melanoma research teams. The ACRF has also provided significant funding to the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, totaling more than $4 million.