Australia’s First Genomics Hub Launched
News Jul 20, 2016
Scientists will be able to harness the power of big data to unravel the genetics of cancer on a scale not seen before in Australia, with the launch of a new centre bringing together five powerhouses of medical research.
The Genomics Innovation Hub, led by the University of Melbourne and the Australian Genome Research Facility (AGRF), will provide critical next-generation technology and analytics capacity that will ultimately pave the way for personalised treatments based on patients’ genetic profiles.
The University of Melbourne’s Director of Cancer Research and renowned pancreatic cancer researcher, Sean Grimmond, said the Hub would see Australia join an international effort to transform cancer research in research, diagnostics, technology, bioinformatics and industry partnerships and help cross the “cancer technology chasm”.
“This global convergence around genomics is on a par with the cooperation we saw in World War II to break the Enigma code,” Professor Grimmond said. “In global terms, Australia has been late to the genomics revolution, so early access to disruptive technologies is crucial to Australia’s global competitive advantage.”
“Genome centres overseas have devoted considerable investment to these big data approaches. This Hub will ensure Australia does not miss out on advances in genomic-driven advances in drug development and oncology, and will lay the foundations for advances in the global effort to transform cancer research and treatment.
“Traditionally, we’ve based treatments around the type of cancer, and not the person. We know the underlying root causes can be different from person to person, and genomics helps us get to the fundamentals of these different responses.”
As genome editing technologies advance toward clinical therapies, they are raising hopes of a completely new way to treat disease. However, challenges need to be addressed before potential treatments can be widely used in patients. To tackle these challenges, the National Institutes of Health has launched the Somatic Cell Genome Editing program, which has awarded multiple grants including more than $3.6 million to assess the safety of genome editing in human cells and tissues.