$2.7m to expand geriatric cancer trials in regional Victoria

La Trobe's John Richards Centre for Rural Ageing Research has been awarded $2.7 million to undertake cancer-clinical trials in regional Victoria.  The trials are for older adults with cancer.

The funding is part of an $18.6 million package from the Australian Government’s 2020–21 federal health budget, under the Medical Research Future Fund's Clinical Trials Enabling Infrastructure Grant. It was awarded to the Regional Victoria Trials Alliance: Linkages, Innovation, Special populations, Equity (ReViTALISE), led by Border Medical Oncology and Regional Trials Network - Victoria. The funding will run over five years.

John Richards Centre director, Professor Irene Blackberry, says regional Victorians lag far behind their city dwellers when accessing quality clinical trials.

“This new funding will allow us to improve access to cancer clinical trials for older people in regional Victoria and improve health outcomes for regional older Australians. We aim to bridge the metro-regional trials gap by 2025,” she said.

“It will expand the current Regional Trials Network to include Mildura Base Hospital and Latrobe Regional Hospital. This covers a population of 1.7 million people.”

“This is a game changer for regional cancer patients and their carers.”

The trials will run through a partnership between the John Richards Centre and Border Medical Oncology, under the ReViTALISE Program. The program involves multiple universities and health services across Victoria.

Dr Christopher Steer of Border Medical Oncology will co-lead the geriatric oncology research stream.

"Older adults with cancer living in regional areas face particular challenges and a team approach is necessary to deliver appropriate care," said Dr Steer.

"This ground-breaking collaboration will lead to innovative clinical trials that will target the most vulnerable patients in our community. The expertise of the John Richards Centre for Rural Ageing Research will enable us to focus on the research questions that matter to older adults in regional Australia," he said.