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Additional research funding for rare cancers

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The Federal Government has announced a $69 million boost to help medical researchers in their fight against rare cancers and rare diseases.

The funding is aimed at assisting patients who often have few options and poor life expectancy.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the Government was committed to investing in research to find the answers to these challenges.

“This is a significant boost on the $13 million that was originally flagged when we called for applications and reflects the incredibly high calibre of medical research that is happening right here in Australia,” Mr Hunt said.

The new funding includes more than $26 million for 19 research projects as part of the landmark Medical Research Future Fund’s Rare Cancers, Rare Diseases and Unmet Needs Clinical Trials Program.

These projects will undertake clinical trials for devastating conditions like acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in infants, aplastic anaemia, multiple sclerosis and Huntington’s disease.

Researchers at the University of New South Wales will test a vaccine to target glioblastoma, a lethal brain cancer and the most frequent cause of cancer deaths in children and young people.

Another clinical trial at the University of Queensland will evaluate the benefits of medicinal cannabis for people with advanced cancer, and define the role of the drug for patients with cancer in palliative care.

Monash University is researching a new preventive treatment for graft versus host disease following a bone marrow transplant which could halve instances of the life-threatening complication, while a trial by the University of Western Australia to simultaneously compare a range of cystic fibrosis treatments may lead to improved care for this complex disease.

Other trials will explore the effectiveness and safety of aspirin compared to heparin to treat blood clots and test a new triple therapy regimen to target rare viral-driven brain lymphomas.

Prior to this announcement, rare and less common cancers received 12 per cent of the cancer research dollar, despite accounting for over 50 per cent of cancer deaths.

Details of the rare cancer projects that have received funding can be found here: www.health.gov.au/internet/ministers/publishing.nsf/Content/health-mediarel-yr2018-hunt008.htm