Finding cures for children's genetic diseases


ProCan Officially Opens at CMRI

The ACRF International Centre for the Proteome of Human Cancer, also known as ProCanTM, has officially launched at Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI) in Sydney. The goal of ProCan is to transform the way in which cancer is diagnosed and treated.

“ProCan is very simple in concept but massive in scale,” said CMRI Director, Professor Roger Reddel, who is also co-leader of ProCan. “We believe the results of ProCan will greatly improve the speed and accuracy of cancer diagnosis and provide clinicians an enhanced capability to choose the most effective treatment option for each individual patient’s cancer and, importantly, to avoid those treatments that are likely to be unsuccessful. This will reduce treatment toxicity and improve cancer treatment outcomes in children and adults - worldwide.”

Mother, Kate Merry, spoke of the devastation after learning her son, Freddy, had cancer at 7 months of age. The family were uprooted from their home in Alice Springs to receive medical care in Sydney. In attendance was a number of medical research professionals, including Vice Chancellor and Principal of The University of Sydney, Dr Michael Spence, and Chair of the ACRF Board, Tom Dery. Also in attendance was Health Minister, The Hon. Jillian Skinner MP and The Hon. Dr David Gillespie, representing the Prime Minister of Australia, who presided over the unveiling of the commemorative plaque.

ProCan will use new technology to measure the precise levels of many thousands of proteins in very small cancer biopsies over the next 5-7 years. This information will be compared with existing knowledge, including which treatments were effective or ineffective for each individual cancer. The data generated will form an enormous database of information that can be accessed by scientists and clinicians worldwide to enable a better understanding of cancer and speed up the discovery of new cancer treatments.

ProCan’s researchers will use this data to develop tools that would provide clinicians around the world an accurate cancer diagnosis within 24 to 36 hours of analysing a tumour biopsy, as well as the information about the available treatments that have the greatest probability of success for that individual cancer.

ProCanTM was established with the help of the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF)’s 30th  Anniversary grant, awarded in December 2015, and also attracted the attention of US Vice President, Joe Biden, which led to CMRI signing a landmark Memorandum of Understanding with the US National Cancer Institute as part of the Cancer Moonshot initiative. The MOU directly links ProCan with the Cancer Moonshot and will increase collaboration and flow of information between cancer researchers and research organisations, to accelerate the pace of cancer research globally.

In addition to seed funding from CINSW, in July, the New South Wales Government recognised the work of ProCan and committed $6 million toward a joint proteogenomics research project on childhood and young adult cancers, with the proteomics component to be conducted at CMRI’s ProCan laboratory.