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 Sep 17, 2017

Olivia Newton-John welcomes $20 million commitment to cancer research

The federal Labor Party's announcement this morning that it will invest $20 million in the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute (ONJCRI) has been welcomed by the ONJCRI's champion, Olivia Newton-John.

The funding commitment comes after Ms Newton-John's visit to Canberra last week, where she met with Australia’s political leaders to discuss how to support and embolden the country’s medical researchers to continue making discoveries that improve outcomes for cancer patients.

During the visit Ms Newton-John spoke to Labor Leader Bill Shorten, shadow health minister Catherine King and shadow minister for social services Jenny Macklin about her experience with breast cancer relapse, her sister's death four years ago to brain cancer, and the work the ONJCRI's researchers were undertaking to improve outcomes for people with these cancers.

Ms Newton-John said she was delighted the Labor Party had committed to funding the ONJCRI's breast cancer and brain cancer programs should it win government. "Cancer is a disease that affects everyone in some way," she said. "Winning over cancer is one of the major challenges of our time. Through wellness therapies and new research discoveries, some of which are being uncovered at the ONJCRI, we will win over cancer."

Professor Jonathan Cebon, the medical director of the ONJCRI, said the Labor Party's funding commitment would support research programs developing more personalised treatments for people with brain cancer and relapsed breast cancer.

"Breast cancer relapse is a significant clinical issue," Professor Cebon said. "Olivia's relapse 25 years after her initial diagnosis has highlighted that many years can pass before the cancer reappears. Our breast cancer research team is seeking to understand why breast cancer cells can lie dormant for many years, what leads to breast cancer relapse, and who is most at risk of relapse."

Professor Matthias Ernst, the scientific director of the ONJCRI and the head of the School of Cancer Medicine at La Trobe University, said the funding commitment for brain cancer research would build on the significant successes already delivered by the ONJCRI team.

"Our brain cancer researchers led the early development of a new brain cancer drug that has shown impressive early clinical results in patients," Professor Ernst said. "The treatment is for patients with glioblastoma multiforme, the most aggressive type of adult brain cancer. It is currently in phase 3 clinical trials and has been licensed for global commercial development.

"The funding commitment will accelerate our research team's work in developing other new treatments for brain cancer, and is an important investment in improving the outcomes for people diagnosed with this disease."

For further details or to arrange interviews:

Ms Penny Fannin; Head, Communications and Marketing, Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute; M: +61 0417 125 700  | 
E: penny.fannin@onjcri.org.au