An anonymous Melbourne donor has gifted three quarters of a million dollars to Peter Mac to expand “PathOS”, a highly powered data and analytical software system at the fore of next-generation personalised medicine.
Developed by Peter Mac, PathOS sifts through reams of patient genetic data looking for gene mutations known to drive cancer and for which targeted drugs are available or in clinical trials.
The future of cancer control is reliant on the ability to interpret genomic “big data” and, with PathOS, Peter Mac is a leader in this field and can also develop novel ways to analyse cancer mutations.
Peter Mac Bioinformatician Ken Doig, who leads PathOS, says the $750,000 donation will allow PathOS to be expanded and ensure more Australians can benefit from cancer treatments tailored to their genes or the genetic make-up of their cancer.
“PathOS allows us to rapidly analyse large amounts of data available through genomic sequencing to identify the one or two gene variants that might be significant, actionable mutations for a person’s cancer,” Ken says.
“As the science and technology develop at speed, we have the opportunity to provide patients with faster, more accurate diagnosis and treatments targeting the highly-specific nature of their cancer.”
The donation will also allow the development of new software features needed for PathOS to cater for a larger pool of patients.
Peter Mac has recently signed collaborative agreements with the Children’s Cancer Institute of Australia, the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute to share access to the PathOS software.
PathOS is also central to a number of high-potential research programs underway at Peter Mac to develop next-generation cancer diagnosis, treatment and monitoring tools.
The donation was received with organisational support from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Foundation.
“We are grateful for the vision of this very generous donor who has so humbly supported Peter Mac’s pursuit of better treatments, better care and cures for cancer,” the Foundation’s Fundraising Director Carl Young says.
PathOS is a computer system developed by Peter Mac to process the massive amounts of data generated by genomic sequencing of a patient’s cancer tissue. It translates this bulk data into a brief clinical report that can a doctor can use to inform their patient’s care. PathOS does this by using high-powered computers to differentiate between gene mutations known to drive cancer and mutations which are bystanders and not potential therapeutic targets. In this way, PathOS supports the “personalisation” of cancer treatment for patients who do not respond to conventional therapy. PathOS has been operational at Peter Mac for three years, and the extra funding will also support the development of new features needed to accommodate demand from a wider array of Australian institutions.