AAMRI welcomes $100 million boost to fight brain cancer

31 October, 2017

The first large scale funding strategy from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) will provide $100 million in funding for medical research to fight brain cancer, the sixth leading cause of cancer burden in Australia.

There has been little change in the survival rates for brain cancer over the last 30 years, while at the same time the survival rates for melanoma, breast cancer and leukaemia have all seen dramatic improvements. These improvements are the result of sustained investment in medical research.

The only way to find new cures for brain cancer is through sustained investment in medical research, Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI) President, Professor Tony Cunningham AO, said.

"This is the big leap that's needed to find new drugs and treatments for those suffering from brain cancer, and I congratulate the Government on this announcement" he said. "It's exactly the kind of big ticket initiative the Medical Research Future Fund was designed to address."

For a long time, investment in brain cancer research has lagged that of other types of cancers, and as a result we have not seen the same progress we have seen with other cancers in terms of better survival rates.

"Addressing the funding imbalance for brain cancer research requires new thinking and a new funding model.

The MRFF provides new opportunities and at a scale not previously seen before to tackle diseases that for too long have been put in the too hard basket.

Part of the funding will be used for Australia to participate in the GBM AGILE clinical trial, which will be one of the biggest collaborations in the history of brain cancer research. This is a world first global adaptive trial based on genomic analysis. This means that treatments patients receive can be improved during the trial. It also allows multiple drugs to be tested on a greater number of patients in a shorter timeframe. The hope is that this will lead to more timely and better outcomes for patients.

"It is great to see that patients are set to benefit soon from this announcement, with investment in clinical trials being a strong feature. This will give patients more timely access to the latest drugs and treatments.

Half the funding for this initiative will come from philanthropy, other governments, industry and the private sector.

"With this announcement, one of the real values of the Medical Research Future Fund has been shown through the leveraging of significant additional funding from other sources.

Funding will also be used to build our domestic research talent through a contestable grant program. This will ensure funding is targeted towards the research and ideas most likely to make a difference.

"One of the most important parts of this initiative is its support for our outstanding research talent, ensuring they can stay here in Australia and make great discoveries. It's great to see there will be new PhD scholarships, postdoctoral, senior researcher, and practitioner fellowships."