Providing better care to more Victorians with genomic sequencing
July 26, 2018
More than 2,000 patients have been given the chance to find the cause of their genetic illness or to access better treatments or care by receiving a genomic sequencing test through Melbourne Genomics Health Alliance.
Established in 2013, Melbourne Genomics is an Alliance of 10 leading healthcare, academic and medical research organisations working together to create the widespread change needed to deliver genomic medicine within Victoria’s healthcare system.
Melbourne Genomics’ focus on health services and clinical care has placed Victoria at the forefront of genomics, and in a leading position internationally.
Our Alliance has now reached an exciting milestone, with 2,000 patients across Victoria selected carefully, based on their individual medical needs, and given a genomic sequencing test. Some patients were tested for inherited or ‘rare’ genetic diseases, patients with cancer had testing to better understand their condition or inform treatment, and a third group had samples tested for superbugs. 488 of the 2,000 patients are children.
30 per cent of patients with cancer or genetic diseases have so far received a diagnosis or new treatment based on their genomic sequencing result.
“Changes in care due to genomic sequencing results can be life-changing for children, adults and their families,” said Melbourne Genomics Executive Director, Associate Professor Clara Gaff.
“For some patients, ineffective treatments have been stopped, while for others, doctors have been able to put in place early monitoring for complications that are yet to emerge. Genomic testing has led to improved matching of cancer patients to treatments, and better access to new drugs through clinical trials.”
Genomic medicine – healthcare informed by greater knowledge of our DNA – is advancing rapidly, and technology now enables us to ‘read’ our DNA.
“But this is only half the story,” said Associate Professor Gaff. “The real challenge is to use genomics wisely:
the right test, for the right patient, at the right time. Our work is identifying when genomic sequencing brings benefit to patients and when current care is best.”
“We’re achieving this by providing genomic sequencing to patients across a range of disease areas, and applying world-leading evaluation methods to show which patients benefit most and how genomics can best be used in mainstream healthcare.”
Minister for Health Jill Hennessy today met Ollie, one of 488 Victorian children who have been given the chance to find the cause of their genetic illness or to access better treatments thanks to genomic sequencing.
Ollie was only hours old when he showed signs of a painful skin condition that left hospital staff baffled. He was signed up to a ground-breaking genomic sequencing program that analysed his DNA in a bid to find a cause for his skin condition.
Just before Ollie turned one, he was diagnosed with epidermolytic hyperkeratosis – a rare genetic skin condition which affects one in 250,000 children.
Genomic sequencing has helped doctors diagnose Ollie’s condition faster to ensure he gets the best medical care he needs. Ollie’s parents have also undergone tests to determine whether they are carriers of the gene.
More than 500 professionals from across the Victorian healthcare system are involved in the Melbourne Genomics program; more than 1,000 have received education in genomics.
Of the patients receiving genomic sequencing, more than a third (35%) are from regional/rural Victoria.
“Melbourne Genomics is ensuring that genomic medicine will be put to use in our hospitals and clinics to help those living with disease achieve accurate results earlier, and receive more personalised medical care,” Associate Professor Gaff said.
Melbourne Genomics is funded by the Victorian Government and the 10 Alliance members.
More info: Read the Minister for Health's media release
Learn more about Ollie's story
Image (L-R): Melbourne Genomics Executive Director Associate Professor Clara Gaff, patient Ollie and his parents Chris and Gemma, The Hon Jill Hennessy MP , Minister for Health, and Ollie's Clinical Geneticist Associate Professor Tiong Tan