POLITICS

Malcolm Turnbull Pledges $20 Million To New Initiative Tackling Childhood Cancer

And made a new (might we add, very cute) friend along the way.

31/05/2016 12:37 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:53 PM AEST
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AP
Malcolm Turnbull announced the latest election promise at Sydney Children's Hospital on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has pledged $20 million to establish a new research initiative aiming to reduce the number of deaths from childhood cancer to zero.

The Zero Childhood Cancer Initiative, established by the Children's Cancer Institute and the Sydney Children's Hospital, will use high-tech research to help provide personalised treatments for children battling high risk cancers.

Announcing the Coalition's latest election promise on Tuesday afternoon, the Innovation Prime Minister said the initiative will increase research in the area to deliver more accurate diagnoses and also provide better treatment to children, who can suffer from harsh treatments like chemotherapy.

"The key is genomics; being able to identify the structure of each cancer and then be able to develop the silver bullet that takes that cancer out as distinct from other cancers and doesn't effect the rest of the child's body," Turnbull told reporters at the Lowy Cancer Research Centre in Randwick.

"Chemotherapies are highly toxic drugs as you know and they will very often kill the cancers. But they can do a lot of damage to the patient and that's particularly a problem with children -- they're little people, they're not as strong, not as resilient as adults."

AAP
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull makes a new friend on day 23 of the campaign trail.

Before delivering the announcement, the Prime Minister found a fan in 6-year-old Lulu Demetriou. The young cancer patient gave Turnbull a drawing with rainbows and hearts, while also squeezing in a hug with the PM.

Like little Lulu, about 1000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year in Australia, with 200 of those having unsuccessful treatment or no cure to turn to.

The Zero Childhood Cancer Initiative will also establish a national network to link researchers and clinicians around the country. This will help young children diagnosed with cancer -- and their concerned parents -- gain access to specialised treatments in each major city.

Turnbull spruiked the initiative as a step to Australia becoming a leader in personalised medicine for childhood cancer.

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