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New Company Starts, Bridging the Development Gap in the Discovery of Cancer Drugs

MELBOURNE, Australia, Aug. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Cancer Therapeutics CRC Pty Ltd (CTx) has commenced operations as one of the largest public/private partnerships of its type in the world.

Underpinned by AUD$148 million in funding over seven years, including AUD$37.6 million from the Australian Commonwealth Government, CTx addresses the gap between Australia's excellent academic cancer research base and its ability to discovery and develop new drugs to treat cancer.

The company is now seeking projects -- "big ideas about small molecules" -- from research organisations in Australia. One of the first projects is to discover and develop compounds directed at BNO69, the CTx participant Adelaide-based Bionomics Limited's own proprietary cancer target.

The CTx will create a dedicated drug discovery capability and drive the discovery, development and commercialisation of new compounds against in-licenced novel molecular targets from research organisations and small biotechnology companies across Australia, and in some cases overseas. Ultimately this will lead to the development of more effective cancer drugs. The innovative approach of CTx, funded under the Commonwealth Government's Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) scheme, will transform the discovery and early development of new therapies that might otherwise languish from a lack of supporting funds, resources and expertise.

Dr Julian Clark, Melbourne-based CEO of CTx, says: "While organisations such as Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the Australian Research Council (ARC) provide excellent support for researchers and organisations pursuing basic scientific investigation, continuing financial support for further development of potential commercial targets has proven problematic. This is largely due to the inherent increased risks and the accelerating costs in any attempts to translate promising compounds into prospective drugs and the lack of funds for early stage medicinal chemistry. The scarcity of intellectual and financial capital for this essential part of the drug discovery process between the lab bench and the clinical drug development process is Australia's great funding gap.

"CTx will provide an integrated and coherent pathway for drug discovery, commercialisation and clinical development. Currently, the standard model of drug development can present a frustrating conundrum for medical researchers. The discovery of a new compound, which may well possess the qualities to be transformed into a new drug, requires further substantial investment to properly demonstrate its potential. At this point, research organisations operating on tight budgets and with limited development experience and/or capabilities feel that further investment is beyond their grasp. In addition, pharmaceutical companies are reluctant to take on the development of compounds at a very early stage because their likelihood of success has not been established. Consequently, a promising compound often fails to reach even the early clinical testing phase."

Dr Ian Street, Chief Scientific Officer of CTx, adds, "That's where CTx comes in. We have a unique combination of skills, ranging from independent, expert scientific assessment and validation through to drug development, commercialisation and clinical application. CTx is now establishing its drug discovery operations in key locations throughout Australia and has already identified a number of exciting projects to initiate its development programs."

For more information

Cancer Therapeutics CRC Pty Ltd CEO

Dr Julian Clark Tel: +61-3-9345-2612


Notes to editors:

CTx has created a world-class translational research organisation headquartered at The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute's Biotechnology Centre at Bundoora, in north-eastern Melbourne, Victoria and brings together Australia's foremost expertise in cancer biology, translational oncology and drug discovery to produce high-quality novel drug candidates for further clinical development and commercialisation. CTx will also attract high quality PhD students to increase Australia's capacity in medicinal chemistry.

The Commonwealth Government CRC Program emphasises the importance of collaborative arrangements to maximise the benefits of research through an enhanced process of utilisation, commercialisation and technology transfer. It also has a strong education component with a focus on producing graduates with skills relevant to industry needs. Organisations participating in CTx include:

-- Bio21 Australia Limited, Melbourne

-- Bionomics Limited, Adelaide

-- Cancer Council of Victoria, Melbourne

-- Cancer Research Technology Limited, London

-- CSIRO Molecular Health Technologies, Melbourne

-- Griffith University, Brisbane

-- Millipore Corporation, Sydney

-- Monash University / Victorian College of Pharmacy, Melbourne

-- Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne

-- St Vincent's Institute, Melbourne

-- The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Melbourne

SOURCE Cancer Therapeutics CRC Pty Limited
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