Personalised diagnostics for brain tumours

Advances in DNA sequencing and genetic testing are making waves around the world – from identifying the makeup and causes of medical conditions, to bringing back the woolly mammoth, and even finding long lost cousins, the potential seems limitless, and across the RCH, dedicated specialists working around the clock to identify and apply this research into treating some of our most vulnerable patients.

In Australia, over 800 children are diagnosed with cancer every year, and it is a devastating reality that 25 per cent lose their life to the condition. Dr Jordan Hansford and his team of neuro-oncologists and specialised researchers are working desperately to change that statistic, and through the power of these advanced tests and and clinical trials, are helping patients across Australia.

“We’ve seen some massive advancements in personalised diagnostics for brain tumours, and immense benefits of tailoring treatment plans to the individual, however for many patients at the RCH, they were unable to access these studies,” said Jordan.

It’s through Jordan’s dedicated network of patient families, their community and support from Government bodies and pharmaceutical companies, that patients at the RCH have improved access to dedicated trials specifically designed to support patients with brain tumours. The Access to Innovative Molecular profiling for BRAIN cancers (AIM Brain) focuses on utilising the best known technology to make the most accurate diagnosis, and the PRecISion Medicine for Children With Cancer (PRISM) trial supports high risk and relapsed patients to access the latest breakthroughs in personalised treatments.

“We treat around 60 brain tumour patients a year, some with conditions so rare they might be the only case in Australia. We knew that the best way to treat these patients was to enrol them in clinical trials. Thanks to this funding, we’ve been able to appoint dedicated clinical trial coordinators and together we’re working towards the goal of 100 per cent of eligible patients enrolled in a trial,” said Jordan.

The aim of both trials is to create a new standard of care at the RCH, and integrate these new learnings in diagnostic and treatment eventually into approved diagnostic tests via the National Associated of Testing Authorities (NATA).

“Traditionally a patient diagnosed with a brain tumour will undergo surgery, chemotherapy, radiation treatment with often lengthy hospital stays as part of their treatment. We hope to be able to utilise these trials to identify the best possible course of treatment for that specific tumour, to hopefully reduce the level of unnecessary treatment and get our patients better, faster,” said Jordan.

“We’ve already seen some big leaps in how we can identify, understand, and treat brain tumours, and it’s really exciting to be able to give these children the best possible chance at survival. Thank you for helping make this possible!”