National Drug Discovery Centre announces new projects 

09 August 2023
Key Researchers
Emeritus Professor Suzanne Cory
Honorary Distinguished Research Fellow
Division Head

Five research projects have been awarded generous Australian Government subsidies to fast-track their discoveries into new medicines using the National Drug Discovery Centre (NDDC).

The NDDC’s National Steering Committee – an independent panel of drug discovery experts from around Australia – reviewed and selected the projects from a strong field of applications.

Through the NDDC, these projects will have access to the latest in advanced robotic high-throughput screening to enable patients to potentially benefit from novel treatments sooner.

The subsidies cover 90% of the cost of using the NDDC, reducing the cost of a traditional screening campaign – normally upwards of $300,000 – to around $30,000 – $45,000.

Compilation image of four researchers

At a glance
Five new research projects have been announced as beneficiaries of Australian Government subsidies to access the National Drug Discovery Centre, an important step towards the development of new medicines.
The projects will use the centre’s advanced robotic high-throughput screening technologies to improve treatments for a range of diseases including osteosarcoma, golden staph, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Parkinson’s disease and fast-progressing aggressive cancers.

New therapies for patient treatment

Osteosarcoma is an aggressive bone cancer that is most often diagnosed in children and teenagers.

Currently, the primary treatment is surgery followed by chemotherapy; but rapid growth and resistance mean that the outcome of chemotherapy is often poor. Targeted medicines designed specifically for osteosarcoma are urgently needed.

Building on their research into Alternative Lengthening of Telomeres (ALT) in cancer cells, Dr Yu Heng Lau (photo, left) and his multidisciplinary team (pictured above) at the University of Sydney aim to discover the first small molecule therapeutic leads that disrupt ALT and selectively kill osteosarcomas.

Treatments have failed to decrease mortality or slow progression of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), affecting 10% of adults globally.

A research team from the University of Queensland led by Dr Brian Dymock, Head of the Queensland Emory Drug Discovery Initiative, and Professor Kate Schroder, from the Inflammasome Lab at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, aims to develop first-in-class treatments that provide greater efficacy and safety than current therapies. Their recent findings indicate the inflammasome is a major driver of chronic lung inflammation in COPD.

Staphylococcus aureus (aka golden staph) is a global bacterial problem. It has a mortality rate of 15% from over one million infections worldwide each year, and is becoming resistant to existing antibiotics.

A team of Monash University and Alfred Hospital researchers, led by Dr Jhih-Hang Jiang and Professor Anton Peleg, has a novel strategy that aims to oppose this emerging resistance and restore the effectiveness of both current medicines and our natural immune defenses.

Led by Professor Suzanne Cory and Professor Peter Czabotar, a team from WEHI has discovered an important relationship between two proteins that are implicated in many human cancers.

With the NDDC, the team hopes to find compounds that can target and selectively disrupt the interactions of these two proteins, killing malignant cells and offering a potential new strategy for cancer therapy.

Professor Guillaume Lessene, together with a multidisciplinary team at WEHI, aims to develop first-in-class inhibitors of cell death as new drugs to stop the loss of dopamine-producing neurons in Parkinson’s disease (PD).

In the longer term, the team’s program seeks to validate the importance of cell death in PD and potentially open an entirely new way of treating this, and other, neurodegenerative conditions.

Find out more

If you want more information about what the NDDC offers, we encourage you to discuss your project with us prior to submission. Contact the NDDC

WEHI Authors
Emeritus Professor Suzanne Cory
Honorary Distinguished Research Fellow
Division Head
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