$4.5m co-funding for brain cancer trials

Feb 18 2019

Associate Professor Craig Gedye

The Federal Government has partnered with the Hunter-based Mark Hughes Foundation and Carrie Bickmore’s Beanies 4 Brain Cancer to deliver four new brain cancer research trials under a co-funding injection totalling $4.5 million.

Health Minister Greg Hunt announced that $2.9 million would be drawn from the Medical Research Future Fund to supplement a $1.6 million joint contribution by the two fund-raising foundations as part of the Australian Brain Cancer Mission.

In another Hunter connection, Dr Craig Gedye, a member of HMRI’s Cancer Research Program, will lead a national team of clinicians and researchers to create a trial called MAGMA investigating treatment protocols for an aggressive form of brain cancer known as glioblastoma.

“It’s a multi-stage, multi-arm trial designed to make more effective use of the tools and treatments we already have for glioblastoma,” Dr Gedye said. “In other words, rather than waiting for new therapies to be developed it will ask questions that can immediately inform clinical practice and possibly change the way we treat cancer overnight.

“As a truly national study, it will recognise the hard work being undertaken at hospitals right across Australia, including the Calvary Mater Newcastle and John Hunter Hospital.”

Other trials will explore the use of precision medicine in treating relapsed high-grade glioma; test the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatments for children and adolescents with Medulloblastoma brain tumours; and evaluate a new combined chemotherapy treatment to target brain tumours in children.

Minister Hunt said clinical trial programs such as these bring hope for patients and save lives.

“We have seen increased survival rates for cancers such as breast and bowel cancer. However, survival rates for rare cancers like brain cancer and lymphoma have remained relatively unchanged for some time around the world,” he said.

“We hope and believe that these brain cancer trials will take Australia closer to leading the world in doubling survival rates for those with brain cancer over the next decade.”

* Craig Gedye is a Senior Staff Specialist, Department of Medical Oncology, at the Calvary Mater Newcastle and Conjoint Associate Professor with the University of Newcastle, researching in conjunction with HMRI’s Cancer Research Program. HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.