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New centre tackles cancer head on

Queensland is further cementing its place as a hub for leading medical research following the recent announcement by Premier Anna Bligh of a specialised Brisbane based research centre for head and neck cancers.

Through a joint partnership with the Princess Alexandra Hospital, The University of Queensland, Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) and the Translational Research Institute, the $15 million facility will be largely based at the Princess Alexandra Hospital and the Translational Research Institute.

QIMR Director, Professor Frank Gannon said the Centre will carry out research to understand, prevent, diagnose and treat head and neck cancer in Australia and internationally.

“Head and neck cancers are becoming more common in Australia and are a significant health issue for our Asian neighbours in China, Vietnam and India,” Professor Gannon said.

“Establishing this new research Centre and building on existing partnerships will allow us to educate and train doctors, health professionals and scientists; vaccinate against viruses linked to cancers; and improve screening and diagnosis.”

The Brisbane-based research centre will bring state of the art equipment for developing tests to help treat head and neck cancer and will aim to deliver novel diagnostic and treatment therapies.

Men are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with head and neck cancer as women.

These types of cancers are most often found in older males with a history of smoking and alcohol consumption; younger males with oral or tonsillar Human Papilloma Virus infection; and those from a Chinese background with a history of Epstein-Barr virus infection.

Professor Gannon said the new Centre will build on strong partnerships that exist in Queensland and internationally.

“The input from QIMR will include drug discovery, immunotherapy and epidemiology – all of which build on strong ongoing collaborations with the PAH,” Professor Gannon said.

“For example QIMR’s Professor Rajiv Khanna has been working closely with the team at the Princess Alexandra Hospital and colleagues from the University of Hong Kong on a trial to develop an immunotherapy to treat patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma which has shown promising results.

“This Centre is an exciting opportunity to build on collaborations such as this to improve outcomes for those suffering from these painful cancers throughout Queensland and the world.

“Funding from The Atlantic Philanthropies, the Queensland Government and the Princess Alexandra Hospital has made the establishment of this Centre possible and the work we will be able to carry out will offer benefits well beyond our state’s borders.”