Melbourne’s Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre to be home of ‘the next great wave in treatment’

25 March 2019

A new form of cancer treatment that uses cell therapy to attack the disease will become available in Australia, after the Federal Government announced $80 million towards a facility in Melbourne.

Key points:

  • Health Minister Greg Hunt said the $105 million centre would be the first of its kind in the southern hemisphere
  • It will offer CAR T-cell therapy, which strengthens the immune system to attack some forms of cancer
  • The treatment was approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration in December last year

The $105 million treatment centre will be housed at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and will offer CAR T-cell therapy, Health Minister Greg Hunt said.

The treatment involves removing some of a patient’s immune system cells so they can be re-engineered in a lab, before they are reinserted to attack cancer cells.

“Australia will now be one of the world’s leading centres for not just treatment but for manufacturing of CAR T-cell therapy, which is the next great wave in cancer treatment for people with blood cancers and potentially other type of cancers,” Mr Hunt said.

“This is the first such facility not just in Australia, not just in the southern hemisphere but indeed throughout the entire Asian region.”

Therapy ‘will be available to all Australians’

CAR T-cell therapy treatment was only approved for use by the Therapeutic Goods Administration in December last year, at a cost of $598,000 per patient.

Mr Hunt said it would now be available to all Australians.

“This will not just help patients in Victoria, it will help patients all around Australia and hopefully patients right throughout the world,” Mr Hunt said.

The announcement is part of a $500 million health and medical research package planned for Victoria in the Federal Budget.

“[The package is] about ensuring that Victoria, and Melbourne in particular, is the global medical research hub for cancer and many rare diseases,” Mr Hunt said.

The package also includes $30 million for new device and treatment research at St Vincent’s Aikenhead Centre for Medical Discovery, and $16 million for the mental health sector.

Another $40 million was also announced for new paediatric emergency departments at the Geelong, Maroondah, Frankston and Casey hospitals.

It is not clear when the centre will be opening.

Mr Hunt is expected to reveal further details at an announcement in Melbourne this morning.



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