Researcher profile: Dr Andre Minoche

Dr Andre Minoche

Dr Andre Minoche is fascinated by what the genome can tell us about ourselves, and how it can be used to improve our health.

Starting in Berlin and now with his team at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, he is working to bring more effective personalised treatment to children with cancer.

Dr Minoche has a 2019 Early Career Fellowship from the Cancer Institute NSW for his study ‘Defining the genomic and epigenetic landscape of high-risk paediatric cancer genomes using long-read sequencing’.

What is the research?

Dr Andre Minoche is striving for better cancer treatments.

“My fellowship is about improving cancer diagnostics and precision cancer therapy utilising a new cutting-edge genome analysis method,” he explains.

“This method allows us to access parts of the genome that so far had remained unresolved and to query for the first time ever the epigenome along with the genome at singe molecule resolution.”

It focuses on high-risk cancers in children – cancers that are more likely to recur or spread.

“Instead of focussing on a specific cancer tissue, I am prioritising cancers for which the driver mutation hasn’t been identified yet with the currently available genome analysis techniques, and cancers that recur after treatment.

“We think that the recurrence of cancers is due to a higher genomic instability, which can be better resolved with the novel genome analysis technology.”

What could it mean for children with cancer?

By identifying the gene mutations that cause cancer, children with cancer could receive more effective, more personalised treatments – giving them better outcomes.

“Childhood cancer is mainly driven by the predisposition one is born with, which makes it particularly cruel and tragic,” Dr Minoche explains.

“From a scientific perspective, the personal genetic predisposition to cancer is still poorly understood, and new insights will benefit both treatment of children and adults.”

The progress so far

“At present I am quantifying the differences between current best practice methods and the novel technology in childhood cancer,” Dr Minoche says.

Collaborating with Children’s Cancer Institute he will be investigating how to best employ this new technology to improve cancer diagnostics and benefit children with cancer.

“The generous funding of Cancer Institute NSW has allowed me to focus on research and less on constantly hunting for funding.

“It gave me the opportunity to connect nationally and internationally with other researchers in the field to share and exchange knowledge.”

What makes NSW the right place for your research?

For Dr Minoche, coming to Sydney meant a whole new source of exciting discoveries in personalised medicine.

“The Garvan Institute was one of the first three sites in the world that acquired whole genome analysis instruments” he says.

"It is allowing us to perform the sequencing of around 18,000 human genomes per year for a couple of thousand dollars per genome.

“To put this into perspective, the first human genome took 13 years to complete and cost $3 billion dollar.”