New hope for children with cancer
River, Skye and Dr Geoff McCowage
26 March 2007
A new facility based at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead offers new hope to children with cancer. The Westfield Gene and Cell Medicine Facility was launched by Frank Sartor, Minister for Science and Medical Research.
Utilising gene-based therapies, the facility offers new hope for children with previously untreatable conditions. "This facility will enable us to grow and modify patients cells and if necessary genetically repair them before being returned to the patient", explained Dr Ian Alexander, Head of the Gene Therapy Unit. "It consolidates The Children’s Hospital at Westmead’s leading role in developing novel therapies for children and further strengthens our evolving status as a national centre of excellence in cell and gene-based therapies," added Chief Executive Dr Tony Penna.
The facility has the potential to support developing therapies targeted at many other cell types involved in disease throughout the body, including muscle cells for the treatment of muscular dystrophies and liver cells for the treatment of haemophilia. In the short-term the facility will be used for gene therapy applications involving gene-based treatment of bone marrow stem cells. This includes the Hospital’s continued involvement in the ground-breaking treatment for children with congenital immune deficiency disorders, and an impending gene therapy trial in patients with brain tumours, designed to protect the bone marrow against the ravages of chemotherapy.
Funding for the Westfield Gene and Cell Medicine Facility was a collaborative venture between the Westfield Foundation and the NSW Government.