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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Radiopharmaceuticals hub to accelerate translation of precision cancer therapies

Health Industry Hub | May 10, 2024 |

Pharma News: A newly inaugurated research and manufacturing facility at The University of Queensland is developing a range of hyper accurate cancer drugs. The Australian Research Council (ARC) hub for Advanced Manufacture of Targeted Radiopharmaceuticals (AMTAR) is connecting biotech enterprises with the necessary expertise and equipment for the development, testing, and delivery of pioneering precision cancer therapies.

Supported by a $5 million grant from the ARC and over $10 million in contributions from industry partners, the AMTAR hub operates within The University of Queensland’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN), in collaboration with the University of Sydney, and radiopharmaceutical industry partners such as Telix, AdvanCell, Starpharma, Clarity Pharmaceuticals, Cyclowest, and GlyTherix.

Professor Kris Thurecht, AIBN’s Director of Research and leader of the AMTAR hub, emphasised the significance of radiopharmaceuticals in mitigating the adverse effects of cancer treatment.

“The medical technology is still very much in development, but radiopharmaceuticals already represent a multi-billion-dollar industry that will be integral to modern healthcare,” remarked Professor Thurecht. “Through AMTAR, we have an opportunity to position Australia as a global leader in this field.”

He underscored the shortcomings of conventional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which lack specificity and often harm healthy cells.

“But radiopharmaceuticals offer a highly targeted approach, sending radiation equipped proteins directly to the site of cancers and minimising the impact on the body,” he explained.

“Radiopharmaceutical science has been around for decades, but it is only through recent advances in scientific infrastructure and instrumentation that we’ve been able to conceive and create commercially viable products. AMTAR will be where biotech firms can connect with the scientific expertise and infrastructure needed to develop new drugs and manufacture them at scale,” he added.

A newly released discussion paper developed by MTPConnect and supported by Novartis and other partners has unveiled Australia’s preparedness to take the helm in the rise of the global radiopharmaceutical industry, as advanced therapies fuel substantial investment and expansion. Novartis has made radiopharmaceuticals a pillar of its oncology portfolio, with two registered therapies – Lutathera (lutetium 177 Lu chloride) and Pluvicto (lutetium 177Lu vipivotide tetraxetan).

Dr Richard Johnson, Acting Chief Executive Officer of the ARC, hailed the AMTAR hub as a catalyst for unlocking the therapeutic potential of radiopharmaceuticals, thereby propelling Australia to the forefront of an exponentially expanding sector.

“The ARC has a proud history of facilitating collaborations that promise wider research benefits and commercial opportunities,” noted Dr Johnson. “By bringing together world-class researchers and industry leaders we are laying the foundations for a rich and lasting radiopharmaceutical manufacturing pipeline.”

Dr Michael Wheatcroft, Chief Scientist at Telix, expressed enthusiasm about the partnership, envisioning accelerated development and commercialisation of novel radiopharmaceuticals in Australia.

“The team of high quality industry, academic and research partners will enable the translational science required to bring these innovative new technologies to patients,” remarked Dr Wheatcroft.

The AMTAR research hub will also benefit from contributions from The University of Nottingham and the University of Tokyo, as well as collaborations with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in the United States.

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