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The moon-shot to cure cancer – 4 February World Cancer Day

4 February 2016

Today is World Cancer Day, a day marked around the globe by activities to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment. 

The cancer research staff at the Malaghan Institute do not treat patients, but work for the cures and new treatments of the future.  

Director of the Institute Graham Le Gros says, “There has never been a more focussed time in cancer research.  President Obama’s ‘moon-shot’ speech last month, pledging to find cures for cancer within five years comes at a time when we have two incredibly strong scientific advances in medical research.  Firstly, genomics; cancer genome sequencing identifies the specific and unique changes within a tumour relative to a patient’s healthy cells.  The first breast cancer tumour was sequenced in 2009. While this is not yet a mainstream approach to cancer treatments, and there are over 200 different types of cancers – this arm of medical research has the potential to identify specific mutations driving a cancer’s growth and open up the possibility for specific therapies.

“The second factor is immunotherapy, which is a focus for most researchers at the Malaghan Institute.  Immunotherapy seeks to stimulate or unleash the body’s own immune mechanism to fight off cancer.  Together these approaches have tremendous power and potential.  While President Obama has rallied Americans to find cures to cancer/s within five years, the truth is this moon-shot will be realised internationally.”