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Wednesday, 11 March 1998
Page: 1041


Mrs BAILEY (7:35 PM) —Mr Speaker, this is the first opportunity I have had to formally congratulate you on being elected Speaker in this House, and I do so now with great pride. I rise tonight because I want to bring to the attention of this House a quiet revolution that is happening in research into cancer, both in the laboratory and in clinical trials. This quiet revolution is happening at the largest branch of the internationally renowned Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research located at the Austin and Repatriation Medical Centre in Melbourne. The Ludwig Institute was founded by Daniel Ludwig in 1974. In establishing the institute, Daniel Ludwig said:

Success in any complex enterprise consists of bringing together the best minds to bear on each problem, in providing the best resources possible and in putting each concept into practice whenever and wherever the opportunities are most favourable. I believe firmly in the value of applying these principles in grappling with tasks as momentous as finding ways to relieve the human suffering caused by cancer.

Today, the original concept of Daniel Ludwig is being fulfilled by 10 research centres throughout the world, the largest being the Australian centre in Melbourne. Each of the centres conducts its own specific research but, in keeping with the original guidelines set in place by Daniel Ludwig, there is a sharing of research in order to achieve the best possible result. It is important that the Melbourne centre is located at a major University and teaching hospital, because it gains by having access to all departments and is better able to conduct clinical trials as well as having such a strong emphasis on academic research.

So much more is known about cancer and the way to treat this invasive disease and for a person to be diagnosed with cancer today does not necessarily mean there is no prognosis and a complete lack of quality of life. Research conducted by institutes like the Ludwig have meant that many forms of cancer can be successfully treated and many people can pursue a normal life free of pain. However, there are still some forms of cancer that destroy healthy cells at a rapacious rate and can make life intolerable.

The Melbourne Ludwig Institute is leading the way in innovative research in two major areas. These are a tumour targeting program and a vaccine program which are conducted both in the laboratory and in clinical trials where patients choose to volunteer for this particular form of treatment, either in conjunction with their current treatment or by itself.

In the tumour targeting program, antibodies are developed on site in the Ludwig Laboratory and injected to target specific tumours. Progress is monitored by using positron emission tomography—or PET technology—which, I am pleased to say, has been funded by this government. This means that patients can be monitored using the very latest in technology in a non-invasive manner, thereby avoiding further stress and ensuring that our scientists can be assured that their research is being assessed by the highest technical quality of instrumentation.

The program is supported by collaboration with both other Australian as well as overseas research institutes and, importantly, private industry. The vaccine program is designed to achieve immunity for specific cancers. Laboratory research concentrates on identifying the relationship between different cancers and the immune system. Currently, clinical trials are being conducted on patients with advanced malignant melanomas and many other forms of cancer.

It is vital that research of this calibre is conducted. I would like to place on record my thanks and appreciation to the Director of the Melbourne Branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Professor Antony Burgess; the Director of the Clinical Program at the Austin and Repatriation Medical Centre, Associate Professor Jonathan Cebon; the Director of the tumour targeting program, Dr Andrew Scott; and the laboratory head of the cancer vaccine program, Dr Eugene Maraskovsky. My thanks and appreciation to all the very talented staff working in the Melbourne Ludwig Institute for their sheer brilliance, tenacity and dedication.