Finding cures for children's genetic diseases

Research

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  • ProCan
    ProCan

ProCan

The ACRF International Centre for the Proteome of Human Cancer



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ProCan was established with a $10 million grant from the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF). ProCan is a world-first initiative developed by Professors Phil Robinson and Roger Reddel which launched in September 2016.

“ProCan will not only advance basic research into new and better cancer treatments but soon it will also help doctors rapidly choose the best existing treatment for their patients.”

Ian Brown, CEO of ACRF

Over the next 5-7 years, scientists at CMRI are analysing tens of thousands of examples of all types of cancer from all over the world to develop a library of information to advance scientific discovery and enhance clinical treatment worldwide.

This database will mean doctors can effectively narrow down the best type of currently available treatment to target a cancer patient’s individual diagnosis, without having to waste time trialling medications that won’t effectively treat the disease. 

The Centre is acting in partnership with cancer researchers, clinicians, tumour banks, and technology experts, such as Professor Ruedi Aebersold in Zurich whose 2015 Nature paper acted as the 'proof of concept' for us to undertake, on a much larger scale, the  ProCan project.  

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New technology, called PCT-SWATH mass spectrometry, is being used to rapidly and simultaneously measure the precise levels of many thousands of proteins in very small cancer biopsies. Working with leading cancer researchers throughout Australia and around the world, the Centre is analysing about 70,000 samples of all types of cancer, starting with cancers of childhood.

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Advanced data science and software engineering will be used to compare the protein data with the de-identified information that is already available for each cancer, including clinical records such as pathology test results, genetic analyses, genome sequencing, and any previous responses to cancer treatment. This proteogenomics approach to understanding cancer is crucial to speeding up the search for cures, and towards this end, ProCan signed an MOU with the United States' National Cancer Institute as part of Vice President Joe Biden's Cancer Moonshot Initiative.

The information generated by ProCan will be free for anyone to access. This will help scientists all over the world studying cancer. What’s more, the library of information created will be a point of reference that can be used now and in the future to aid rapid diagnosis and treatment planning.

Thanks to one of the largest equipment grants in Australian history, $10 million from the ACRF, followed by substancial support from Cancer Institute NSW and the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Phase One of the project is well underway.  

A recent $41 million funding boost from the Commonwealth and State governments, along with significant funding from Cancer Council NSW, will help us to achieve Phase Two, which will employ advanced computer analysis and bioinformatics techniques to compare the protein data with other information available. Phase two is critical if ProCan is to be used to predict the most effective cancer treatments for each individual.

Proteomics is the next step after genomics, and the newest frontier in medical research. Read more.
 


 If you would like to learn more or to contribute to please contact Children's Medical Research Institute.

 

More on the science behind ProCan from Professor Phil Robinson