Research in areas such as cancer, autoimmune disease, endometriosis, mental health, kidney disease and bacterial infection will advance with almost $500,000 in support from Therapeutic Innovation Australia (TIA).
TIA is using its Pipeline Accelerator scheme to enable 15 researcher and industry projects to access a range of specialist Australian translational medical research infrastructure.
The scheme has supported more than 100 projects with more than $3.5 million since 2017, with many of the projects progressing along the development pipeline to clinical trials and commercial outcomes.
For the 2022 round, additional funding has been provided by the MTPConnect-operated Australian Antimicrobial Resistance Network (AAMRNet) to support three research projects targeting antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
AAMRNet co-chair Andrew Bowskill said antimicrobial resistance was one of the most critical public health threats that the world was facing.
“This is the first time we have collaborated with TIA on its Pipeline Accelerator scheme to offer particular support for Australian projects tackling the complex challenges of AMR,” he said.
“We look forward to following the projects’ progress.”
Associate Professor Rebecca Lim has secured support for Melbourne-based oncology biotech company Prescient Therapeutics to access the National Biologics Facility’s Queensland Node. The work will enable Prescient to undertake validation studies that are critical for regulatory approval as they progress their genetically modified immune cells, called OmniCAR, towards use in the clinic. The immune cells are designed to target and kill cancer cells, as well as prevent relapse.
Dr Sohinee Sarkar from Murdoch Children’s Research Institute is studying the antibiotic-resistant bacteria infecting the lungs of people with cystic fibrosis, driving disease progression, and leading to organ failure and even death. She will use her own stem-cell based infection model to screen existing therapeutics at Compounds Australia to see if they can be repurposed to attack the bacteria driving cystic fibrosis, without causing side effects. “Having more treatment options will help clinicians tackle these infections more effectively while improving patients’ quality of life,” Dr Sarkar said.
Professor Ian Smyth from Monash University has been awarded for a third consecutive year to progress research into new treatments for kidney disease. Previous TIA-supported research has involved the development of prototype compounds which target an enzyme that drives polycystic kidney disease (PKD). Autosomal Dominant PKD is the major form of this condition and is the most common inherited life-threatening disease, accounting for a significant proportion of Australians with renal failure requiring dialysis or organ transplant. The new research project will access the Australian Translational Medicinal Chemistry Facility and the Centre for Drug Candidate Optimisation to develop and test three new molecules for their activity, paving the way for preclinical trials.
The Pipeline Accelerator scheme 2022 recipients are:
- Dr Nicole van Bergen, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, accessing Compounds Australia for a project entitled Utilising high-throughput drug screening for mitochondrial metabolite repair disorders
- Associate Professor Kara Britt, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, will access the Victorian Centre for Functional Genomics for a project entitled Identify drugs that selectively inhibit oestrogen receptor positive luminal progenitor activity
- Associate Professor Ethan D Goddard-Borger, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, accessing the Centre for Drug Candidate Optimisation for a project entitled Development of anthelmintics with a novel mode of action
- Dr Sarah Jones, Monash University, accessing the National Biologics Facility, Victoria Node for a project entitled A novel Glucocorticoid (GC) mimic for the treatment of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases
- Dr William Thomas Jorgensen, Psylo Pty Ltd, accessing the Centre for Drug Candidate Optimisation for a project entitled Pre-clinical development of novel serotonergic agents for therapeutic applications in mental illness
- Professor Christopher Langmead, Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, accessing the Australian Translational Medicinal Chemistry Facility for a project entitled Development of novel GPR52 agonists for schizophrenia
- Associate Professor Rebecca Lim, Prescient Therapeutics, accessing the National Biologics Facility, Queensland Node for a project entitled Preclinical toxicity studies for OmniCAR-enabled targeting ligands
- Associate Professor Rebecca Lim, Hudson Institute of Medical Research, accessing Q-Gen Cell Therapeutics for a project entitled Phase II Amnion Cell Therapy in Ischemic Stroke
- Professor Kirsten Radford, Mater Research Institute, accessing the National Biologics Facility, Queensland Node for a project entitled Development of human CLEC9A antibodies as cancer vaccines
- Professor Ian Smyth, Monash University, accessing the Australian Translational Medicinal Chemistry Facility and Centre for Drug Candidate Optimisation for a project entitled Pharmacokinetic assessment and optimisation of a new therapy for PKD
- Professor Roland Stocker, Heart Research Institute, accessing the Australian Translational Medicinal Chemistry Facility for a project entitled Synthesis of a novel PET probe to detect plaque activity for the identification of high-risk atherosclerosis
- Dr Thomas Theodor Tapmeier, Monash University, accessing the Australian Translational Medicinal Chemistry Facility for a project entitled NPSR1 Antagonist in Endometriosis
The three recipients to receive funding under the AMR stream co-funded by AARMNet and TIA are:
- Dr Katherine Locock, CSIRO, will access Compounds Australia and the Community for Open Antimicrobial Drug Discovery for a project entitled Accelerated antibiotic discovery through high-throughput screening of the CSIRO Compound Library
- Dr Sohinee Sarkar, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, will access Compounds Australia for a project entitled A new treatment for the cystic fibrosis superbug, Mycobacteroides abscessus
- Professor Timothy Stinear, the University of Melbourne, will access the Victorian Centre for Functional Genomics for a project entitled A high-throughput screening campaign to find inhibitors of intracellular multi-drug resistant Staphylococcus aureus.
TIA is a network of 25 national translational research infrastructure facilities in biologics and vaccines, cell and gene therapies, and small molecule pharmaceuticals. We aim to provide Australian researchers with access to the infrastructure to enable efficient translation of therapeutics to improve human health. Our investments ensure facilities are coordinated, comprehensive, accessible and responsive to the needs of the Australian translational research community. We financially support selected service providers to enable researcher access to subsidised, seamless, and value-adding expertise and support. Collectively, the TIA consortium enables translation of research findings into potential medical products, and towards readiness for Phase I trials and beyond.
About the Pipeline Accelerator:
TIA has developed the Pipeline Accelerator as a voucher-style researcher access scheme to facilitate and encourage access to our facilities. The scheme provides SMEs and researchers with access to one or more facilities associated with TIA to further reduce the cost of access to a specific capability. An external panel assesses projects for their scientific quality and potential for development of a therapeutic product.
The Australian Antimicrobial Resistance Network (AAMRNet) is an industry-led collaboration of stakeholders committed to addressing the impact of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) on human health. Established and operated by MTPConnect, the Industry Growth Centre for the Medical Technology, Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical sector, AAMRNet is supported by members including Pfizer ANZ, CSIRO, MSD Australia, GSK Australia, Botanix Pharmaceuticals, Recce Pharmaceuticals, SpeeDx, Biointelect, Monash Centre to Impact AMR, Bugworks Australia and Medicines Australia.
Additional AAMRNet members include AusBiotech Ltd, BiomeBank, the Community for Open Antimicrobial Drug Discovery (CO-ADD), DMTC Limited, Epichem Pty Ltd, Formulytica Pty Ltd, the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (GARDP), the Incubator for Antibacterial Therapies in Europe (INCATE), LBT Innovations, Menzies School of Health Research, Microbio, Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, RESULTS International Australia and Roche Diagnostics Australia.