Western Australia is set to become a world leader in the development of personalised medicine with the establishment of the Australian National Phenome Centre (ANPC).
The ANPC is the most significant health research collaboration ever realised in WA and this was reflected by its formal opening on 4 October by Acting Premier of Western Australia and Health Minister, the Hon. Roger Cook, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Hon. Ben Morton, and the Governor of Western Australia, the Hon. Kim Beazley AC.
Led by Murdoch University and housed in the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research (South), the ANPC will revolutionise our understanding of the world’s biggest health challenges including cancer, diabetes, obesity and dementia and provide a roadmap for people to live longer, healthier lives.
It is supported by State and Federal governments, the Australian Research Council, Western Australian Health Translation Network, and Western Australian universities and research institutes.
A person’s phenome is a snapshot of their unique biology resulting from complex interactions between genetic factors and the environment.
Phenomic research will transform health care because it considers an individual’s genetic profile along with their lifestyle and exposure to environmental factors to understand their disease or illness and customise the best possible treatment.
It can also analyse large populations to learn more about complex medical conditions including diabetes, autism, cancer and antibiotic resistance.
Vice Chancellor Professor Eeva Leinonen said Murdoch University was proud to be leading a project which would help address some of the world’s greatest health challenges.
“The ANPC is an important symbol of our vision, with its precision – or personalised approach to human health - and capacity to improve the lives of millions,” she said.
“We interact with our environment constantly and we also make personal choices that impact on our own health.
“Phenomic medicine is so exciting because it considers all of these factors to give us a complete picture of an individual’s health and a pathway to prevention of disease or better, more effective treatment of existing illness.”
The ANPC is Australia’s first dedicated metabolic phenotyping laboratory and is part of a world-wide network of compatible centres. It houses the Southern Hemisphere’s largest collection of mass spectrometers and scientists will use these and other sophisticated technologies to analyse biological samples on a mass scale to pinpoint the underlying cause of disease.
The ANPC is led by world-renowned phenomics pioneer, Professor Jeremy Nicholson. He is joined by an elite team of scientists, including the WA Premier’s Fellow in Phenomics Professor Elaine Holmes, and WA Premier’s Early to Mid-Career Fellow Dr Ruey Leng Loo.
Professor Nicholson said the scope of the ANPC went beyond human health into the agriculture, animal health and the environment.
“Phenomics will answer the many questions we have about what is occurring at the molecular level in all living things,” he said.
“Being able to analyse plants and animals in such an intricate way may just lead us to the next antibiotic treatment, or cure for cancer.”
The Federal Government has committed $10 million in funding to the ANPC while the State Government has created a Precision Health Council to provide advice on this emerging field of medicine.