Hope for everyone, not just the rich
There’s been another shot over the bow on the cost of new cancer drugs and treatments being out of the reach of ordinary New Zealanders. The latest story comes via a Checkpoint interview which quotes Oncologists, including the cancer society's top doctor, who say that the government's drug agency, Pharmac, is failing to keep up with the latest cancer treatments - with many New Zealanders missing out. But there is hope for a change.
The Cancer Research Trust of New Zealand, a registered charity, has funded over $15 million in the past 10 years to seed breakthrough research to get cancer on the run, recognising early on the potential of new technologies and thinking.
“The support from the Cancer Research Trust New Zealand has been essential for establishing my research programme and for supporting a new generation of cancer researchers. Without the support and advice from CRT, I would not have achieved any of these research goals,” says Dr Roslyn Kemp, a leading immunologist at the University of Otago.
“The Trust recognised the benefit of sponsoring risky yet innovative research, and recently awarded us funds to use a brand new technology to study the tumour environment,” she said.
Another leading researcher, Dr Michael Jameson, Assistant Dean and Associate Professor, Waikato Clinical Campus, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, has used funding from the Cancer Research Trust to advance his study into “teaching old drugs new tricks”.
“We’re looking for new uses for everyday medicines to ease troublesome side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy which has the potential to save lives and dollars,” he says.
“The Cancer Research Trust is funding a clinical trial after laboratory research showed that taking a heartburn medicine could counter complications from chemotherapy.” You can read about Dr Michael Jameson's clinical trial here.
Another leading oncologist and researcher, Dr Rob Weinkove, Clinical Director at the Malaghan Institute, is investigating new treatments to activate a patient’s own immune system with the help of vaccines and CAR T-cell therapy to kill tumours and reduce recurrence.
“There are huge potential benefits if we could offer a one-off treatment that could protect against, or even be curative for, some cancers, rather than just prolong life,” he said.
”We’re working with a Chinese pharma company to bring CAR T-cell technology to New Zealand, by conducting early phase clinical trials which are at a planning stage now, facilitating regulatory approval, fast-tracking the introduction of pharmaceutical company trials, and eventually enabling routine availability of the most effective treatments.”
One in three people in New Zealand are likely to be directly or indirectly affected by cancer and the Cancer Research Trust is at the forefront in supporting initiatives that will lead to improvements in the prevention, detection, diagnosis or treatment of cancer, or improvements in palliative care.
ABOUT THE CANCER RESEARCH TRUST NEW ZEALAND
Cancer Research Trust New Zealand is the country’s second biggest independent cancer research charity, funding over $15 million in research and professional development projects since 2002. The Trust provides grants to support New Zealand-based initiatives that will lead to improvements in the prevention, detection, diagnosis or treatment of all types of cancer, or improvements in palliative care. To learn more visit: www.cancerresearchtrustnz.org.nz/we-are-getting-cancer-on-the-run.