Professor Tony Reeve
As new genomic and immunological technologies impact on tumour biology we are now reaching an awareness that there is sufficient knowledge to fundamentally change how we treat cancer.
This awareness has evolved from three principal advances:
- the development of genomic capacity that is uniting the previously fractured disciplines of cancer research
- the recognition that many of the past failures of cancer treatment can be attributed to the existence of a sub population of tumour cells (cancer stem cells) that are capable of perpetuating malignancy, but are refractory to standard therapeutic approaches
- the power of genomic profiling to identify precise drug targets on individual cancers.
These advances are at the heart of the Centre for Translational Cancer Research. The centre will diminish the burden of cancer by combining the major national research groups in cancer genetics and cancer immunology with leading clinicians and a network of elite international collaborators.
It will merge and extend existing, but separate capabilities in genomics, bioinformatics, stem cell biology, and drug and vaccine development with a clinical-trials capacity to generate a co-ordinated programme that will target major New Zealand cancers.
The research will be supported by key infrastructure including a national cancer tissue bank and a GMP vaccine production facility. Specifically, the centre will use this multidisciplined approach to develop diagnostics and therapeutics aimed at cancer stem cells and the critical interactions these rogue cells must make with the tissue microenvironment.
In addition, the centre will introduce personalised cancer treatment to New Zealand by contributing to a world-first trial initiated by its leading international partner that uses molecular profiling to enable rational drug selection.
With the centre as the catalyst, New Zealand can lead the world in cancer management, replacing fear with pride.