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University of Melbourne, Illumina Launch A$6M Initiative for Cancers of Unmet Need

NEW YORK – The University of Melbourne and Illumina have launched an A$6 million ($4 million) genomic testing initiative that aims to improve the diagnosis and treatment of patients with cancers of unmet need.

The project, the first under a partnership on genomics-based biomedical research between the university and Illumina that was announced a year ago, will focus on challenging cancers types, such as pancreatic and brain cancer. It will also include rare or aggressive tumors, cancers resistant to standard therapies, and cancers that are traditionally difficult to diagnose. The goal is to provide whole-genome sequencing for more than 1,000 cancer patients over the next three years.

"We are bringing next-generation whole-genome sequencing technologies closer to the clinic, integrating patients' genomic data into routine clinical decision-making for cancers of unmet need," said Sean Grimmond, director of the University of Melbourne Centre for Cancer Research and the project's leader, in a statement. Using equipment at the center, "patient genomes will be sequenced, interpreted, and fed back in real time to clinical teams at partner hospital sites."

The initiative will boost the existing A$1.5 million Precision Oncology pilot program of the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC). The A$6 million in funding for the project comes from VCCC, Illumina, the PMF Foundation, and the University of Melbourne.

"This partnership brings together research, industry, clinicians, and patients and demonstrates the power of collaboration in delivering tangible patient benefits," said VCCC Executive Director Grant MacArthur in a statement.

Sequencing is now available to cancer patients across VCCC alliance sites, including Austin Health, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Royal Melbourne Hospital, St. Vincent's Hospital, The Women's, and Western Health.

Illumina's Australian headquarters will be colocated with the university in the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct.