Manufacturing News, Research and Development

UQ hub to enable new range of precision cancer treatments

A range of hyper-accurate cancer drugs is in production at a newly opened research and manufacturing hub at The University of Queensland. 

The new Australian Research Council (ARC) hub for Advanced Manufacture of Targeted Radiopharmaceuticals (AMTAR) connects biotech firms with the expertise and equipment needed to design, test, and deliver cancer treatments.

Created through a $5 million ARC grant and more than $10 million in industry funds, the AMTAR hub will operate out of UQ’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN).

Hub leader and AIBN director of research Professor Kris Thurecht said radiopharmaceuticals were an emerging group of drugs designed to spare the body from the harsh 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.

“Through AMTAR we have an opportunity to position Australia as a global leader in this field,” said Thurecht.  

Therapies like chemotherapy and radiotherapy have traditionally been the backbone of cancer treatments but the indiscriminate application of radiation means healthy cells are also damaged. 

Thurecht said radiopharmaceuticals instead offer a highly personalised and targeted approach by sending radiation-equipped proteins only to the site of cancers, minimising the impact on the body. 

“Radiopharmaceutical science has been around for decades, but it is only through recent advances in scientific infrastructure and instrumentation that we have been able to conceive and create commercially viable products.

“AMTAR is the place where this happens, where biotech firms can connect with the scientific expertise and infrastructure needed to develop new drugs and manufacture them at scale” said Thurecht.  

AMTAR is a collaboration between the University of Sydney and multi-national radiopharmaceutical industry partners including Telix, AdvanCell, Starpharma, Clarity Pharmaceuticals, Cyclowest, and GlyTherix. 

The hub will also feature contributions from The University of Nottingham, and the University of Tokyo, as well as the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in the US.

ARC acting CEO Dr Richard Johnson said the AMTAR hub would help unlock the power of radiopharmaceuticals, positioning Australia at the vanguard of a rapidly growing industry.  

“The ARC has a proud history of facilitating collaborations that promise wider research benefits and commercial opportunities,” Dr Johnson said.

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