Earlier this month, my daughter and I had the privilege of being part of a tour of the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research (Perkins). We were invited to attend by the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF), the charity which Omika supports, please visit the ACRF website to find out more. You can read why we support the ACRF here on our website.
The Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research is located at the QEII Medical Centre in Nedlands, Western Australia. Perkins was the recipient of two grants totalling $3.6million. A significant portion of these grants was used to purchase essential equipment needed for scientists to do their life changing work, including a MRI, PET/CT and SPECT/CT. Researchers from all over Western Australia can use this imaging facility.
Perkins conducts research in three areas: cancer and cell biology, clinical science and molecular medicine. The building was designed to encourage collaboration between specialists and disciplines and being located in a medical precinct, specialists are able to be involved at both Perkins and the hospital.
We were grateful to hear from a researcher at Perkins, who gave us some new insights. One question commonly asked is, “Why is there no cure for cancer?” The answer is that cancer is not a single disease, so there cannot be one cure. Different genes affect each cancer, so different cancers, in different people, need different treatments.
Previously (and currently), cancer was defined by where it is in the body, for example, breast cancer, bowel cancer, liver cancer etc. Researchers and medical specialists are moving towards a new approach to cancer: the genes in each individual are different – therefore, one person with breast cancer cannot necessarily receive the same treatment as another person with breast cancer. Rather, there is a move towards personalised medicine, so that cancer is defined and treated based on genetics, and not simply the location of their cancer. This is already happening for some types of cancer, such as some types of melanoma.
Right now, scientists and medical experts are good at diagnosis and are better at finding the cause of each individual cancer, however, continual funding for cancer research is essential in order to find better treatment options, so that a person is never told “there is nothing we can do for you.”
NOTE: Perkins is also the home of the Lotterywest BioDiscovery Centre – a scientific laboratory where corporate, community and school groups from year 5 and up and experience a hands on lab session, right in the heart of an inspiring research facility. To find out more, click here to visit their website.
Images courtesy of The Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and Melody Dexter.
Article by Melody Dexter, Founder of Omika.
Please note that I am not a medical or scientific expert – this blog post is a reflection of our visit during the tour of the Harry Perkins Institute. Advice about a person’s health and wellbeing should always be sought from a qualified professional.