21 August 2018

Research focused on innovative treatments for cancer and rare genetic diseases has just received a $5 million NSW Government injection.

Four world-class NSW researchers will share in the funding to support trials for cell and gene therapies to treat rare genetic conditions and cancer, such as neurological disease.

Dr Antonio Penna, Executive Director of the Office of Health and Medical Research, said the $5 million boost will support NSW researchers to remain at the forefront of these rapidly-moving fields

“The funding will provide real benefits to patients and improve the quality of health care across NSW,” Dr Penna said.

Among the four recipients, Professor Ian Alexander from the Children’s Hospital at Westmead has been awarded $2 million to develop CAR T cells to target a broad range of paediatric tumours, and CAR T cells to protect kidney transplants from chronic allograft nephropathy, the leading cause of kidney transplant failure.

Professor Alexander said the grant will also develop gene viral vectors to target blinding eye disease and treat childhood kidney disease.

”This grant will enable us to quickly initiate desperately needed paediatric trials for cancer, eye and kidney disease,” he said.

Other grant recipients include Professor David Gottlieb from Western Sydney Local Health District, Associate Professor Greg Neely from The Charles Perkins Centre, and Professor John Rasko AO from the Centenary Institute.

Gene therapy involves the delivery of DNA into cells. One method is through the use of viruses also called viral vectors. All four of the funded projects will develop manufacturing capacity for clinical-grade gene transfer vectors in NSW.

In 2018-19, the NSW Government is investing $115 million in medical and scientific innovations to help fight diseases, including $20 million for paediatric precision medicine over four years and $60 million for cardiovascular medical research over four years ($150 million over 10 years).