The Kinghorn Cancer Centre eNews Issue 11 – December 2012

Her Excellency Quentin Bryce AC CVO opens The NELUNE Centre

Her Excellency Quentin Bryce AC CVO, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, officially opened The NELUNE Centre within The Kinghorn Cancer Centre on 19th December.

Accompanied by Mr Michael Bryce, the Governor-General toured the building with Nelune Rajapakse and Anna Guillan (pictured above), as well as other Directors of The NELUNE Foundation. Also in attendance was the Chief Executive Officer of St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney, Mr Jonathan Anderson and the Executive Director of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Professor John Mattick AO FAA.

The NELUNE Centre is located on the ground floor of The Kinghorn Cancer Centre and has been designed to provide patients with personalised treatments, purpose-designed chemotherapy chairs, individual patient consoles, treatment areas and a relaxation garden. An innovative model for the care of each patient has been developed by The NELUNE Centre nursing staff.

Prior to the official unveiling of the plaque, Her Excellency and Mr Bryce toured the new facility and met with patients and carers.

The Kinghorn Cancer Centre building update

In other news, Garvan has successfully occupied several research areas of the building. Garvan researchers are now using the fantastic laboratory facilities on Levels 8, 9 and 10. We have also relocated several facilities from Garvan to The Kinghorn Cancer Centre such as Histopathology (level 3) and Tissue Culture (level 7). Over the coming weeks we will continue the relocation effort with the move of our Next Generation sequencing equipment. All the building systems have been commissioned and are being handed over.

Cancer research news from Garvan

A large-scale study involving Garvan researchers from The Kinghorn Cancer Centre that defines the complexity of underlying mutations responsible for pancreatic cancers in more than 100 patients has been published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature.

The analysis represents the first report from Australia’s contribution to the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC), which brings together the world’s leading scientists to identify the genetic drivers behind 50 different cancer types.

Professor Sean Grimmond, from the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) at The University of Queensland, and Garvan’s Professor Andrew Biankin (pictured left, with Dr Scott Mead, pictured right), led an international team of more than 100 researchers that sequenced the genomes of 100 pancreatic tumours and compared them to normal tissue to determine the genetic changes that lead to this cancer. They found over 2,000 mutated genes, ranging from the KRAS gene, which was mutated in about 90 per cent of samples, to hundreds of gene mutations that were only present in 1 or 2 per cent of tumours. This means that while tumours may look very similar under the microscope, genetic analysis reveals as many variations in each tumour as there are patients.

This has shown that so-called “pancreatic cancer” is not one disease, but many, and suggests that people who seemingly have the same cancer may need different treatments.

Cancer services/care news from St Vincent’s
By Professor Allan Spigelman, Director, St Vincent’s Cancer and Immunology Program

Following the high of the very successful opening by the Prime Minister in late August came the tragic passing of the Centre’s inaugural Director, Professor Robert Sutherland a few short weeks later. In fulfilling his vision, I am pleased to say that November 12 marked the entry of the first patients into both the treatment areas and the consulting areas. This significant occasion was preceded by an enormous amount of work by our hard working St Vincent’s Hospital Staff. Thanks are due to them for the enthusiastic manner in which they have embraced all aspects of The Kinghorn Cancer Centre.

In between the opening of the Centre and the arrival of our first patients, the Nelune Foundation hosted its supporters and Board to a welcome to the Centre event, and the ACRF similarly conducted an event relating to the research laboratory that they generously funded. Significantly, a few weeks prior to the arrival of patients, a decommissioning ceremony of the previous treatment space in St Vincent’s Hospital was conducted, with staff and patients forming a procession to carry the ward’s patron saint, St. Peregrine, across to the new habitat of the Nelune Centre, located on the ground floor of The Kinghorn Cancer Centre.

There is still much to be done before the Centre can approach its full potential, but it is still early days. Our next steps will include relocation of some St Vincent’s researchers to the Centre and also of our tumour stream multidisciplinary meetings. Succession planning is also underway for new members of the medical staff, in order to bolster our clinical and research expertise. Negotiations are also progressing regarding occupation of our Wellness Centre.