Fast-tracking new medicines

The Commonwealth and Victorian Governments are working to establish a new National Drug Discovery Centre

The move is aimed at turning ground-breaking scientific discoveries into new medicines more quickly

Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt and Victorian Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos today opened the new $75 million NDDC centre at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research.

The centre was built with $25 million from the Federal Government, $18 million from the Victorian Government and $32 million from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.

The robotics equipment is expected to enable researchers to screen hundreds of thousands of chemicals and rapidly identify which ones can alter processes in the body implicated by a disease or condition.

The Federal Government will subsidise 90% of the screening cost through the Medical Research Future Fund, reducing the cost from more than $300,000 to around $30,000 to $45,000.

The Victorian Government’s investment helped expand the centre to provide researchers with access to additional world-class drug discovery equipment.

The first two recipients of the Federal Government subsidy will be projects to find new medicines for cancer immunotherapy and type 2 diabetes.

Professor Matthias Ernst from the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute aims to uncover how to make cancer tumours less visible to the immune system and enhance the effect of anti-tumour immune therapies.

Associate Professor Anthony Don from the Centenary Institute aims to develop new drugs that reverse systemic insulin resistance that causes type 2 diabetes, without the side effect of weight gain commonly associated with most current drugs.

Round two applications for subsidised access to the NDDC close on 23 March. There will be two funding rounds per year with increasing capacity until 2022.

 “This centre will allow medical researchers to fast-track the development of new drugs to treat common and rare diseases, improving the quality of life for many Australians,” said Federal Minister for Health, Greg Hunt.

“Our governments have worked together to establish this centre which is the first of its kind in Australia.”

“This will be a game changer for Victoria’s world-class researchers who now have the equipment they need to turn their biomedical discoveries into new medicines – bringing life-saving treatments to patients, sooner,” said Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos.

“It will combine specialist expertise with cutting-edge technology right here in Melbourne – and is also accessible to researchers from around Australia.”  

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