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NSW Joins the USA Cancer Moonshot Program

“I’m pleased to say… that we’ve signed three memorandums of understanding between our two nations to do more together, to share data, to accelerate our progress to end cancer… I’ll make you a prediction…that the MOU that we signed is going to become the model, literally the model, for sharing data and information around the world, which is not happening now”. These are the words of US Vice President Joe Biden at a meeting in Sydney during his whirlwind trip to Australia in July.

One of those memoranda was with NSW Government to open the door to greater collaboration in cancer research between NSW and the United States, by sharing advances in cancer research, with the aim of preventing, controlling and managing the disease.

Premier Mike Baird and US Vice President Joe Biden (Courtesy of Premier Mike Baird’s facebook page)

The National Cancer Moonshot was announced by President Obama in his State of the Union address in January 2016, committing US$1 billion and calling on Vice President Biden to lead the initiative.

The aim of the Moonshot is to accelerate research efforts and break down barriers to progress by enhancing data access, facilitating collaboration between researchers, health professionals, philanthropy, the community and industry. The intention is to achieve 10 years’ worth of advances in half that time, translating those advances into treatment as well as prevention and earlier detection.

The US National Cancer Institute has identified integrated cancer proteomics and genomics as one of the key components of the Moonshot program. As part of the agreement, the NSW Government will inject $6 million into a joint project between the Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI) and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, which house the Southern Hemisphere’s most advanced programs in cancer proteomics and genomics respectively.

The aim of the project is the comprehensive analysis of childhood and young adult cancers using state-of-the-art facilities housed at CMRI and the Garvan. Cancer occurs when defects in DNA cause abnormalities of proteins which are responsible for many of the most important processes in living cells.

The Garvan is home to the Southern Hemisphere’s largest facilities for the study of all the DNA (collectively called the “genome”) in cells, and CMRI houses one of the world’s leading centres for analysing simultaneously thousands of proteins (the “proteome”) in cancers.

These key strengths based in NSW will make it possible to map the key molecular changes in cancer, from the genome to the proteome (proteogenomics), a fundamental goal of the Moonshot program, and will make a critically important Australian contribution to the global effort to find solutions for people with cancer.

Updated 2 years ago