COLLABORATION

Australia: New partnership promotes fresh approach to drug discovery

SOURCE: Louis Reed/ Unsplash
Monash University has welcomed in a new collaborative hub that focuses on fragment-based drug discovery.

Monash University in Australia has launched a new training platform for fragment-based design (FBD) to help university and industry researchers enhance their knowledge and expertise in the increasingly popular approach to drug discovery.

Including collaborators at Griffith University and the University of Sydney, as well as 10 industry partners, the Australian Research Council (ARC) Training Centre for Fragment-Based Design (CFBD) based at Monash aims to embrace close partnerships between university-based researchers and other research end-users.

Monash Fragment Platform Director Professor Martin Scalon believes the new centre will successfully bring together internationally recognised technology to facilitate access to the transformative technology of FBD for the development of novel, commercially valuable compounds.

“The centre’s new approaches to generating novel chemical matter have the potential to produce fundamentally new drug classes, expand the number of targets that are amenable to compound development and tackle difficult-to-drug targets, as well as overcoming widespread drug resistance issues, and decreasing the time to market,” he says.

Noting that this technology has significant commercial applications including agrichemicals, veterinary products and human pharmaceuticals, Scallon stands by the centre’s plans to provide a high-tech environment where students, academics and industry can collaborate to ensure trainees have the skills they need to make innovative contributions to the sustainability of Australia’s growing pharmaceutical sector.

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Going forward, key partner Griffith University is advocating for the next generation of scientists to gain a valuable combination of skills and to benefit from access to the new national research centre’s progressive technology and research.

Anticipating its success, Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery (GRIDD) researchers and CFBD Chief Investigators Professor Sally-Ann Poulsen and Dr Maria Halili think the centre will give talented student and postdoctoral researchers the opportunity to be trained in state-of-the art mass spectrometry methods.

With a PhD candidate named Sarah already in mind, Professor Poulsen explains that this student, who is working to determine the molecular structure of three challenging proteins that are involved in disease, will benefit greatly from the centre as it, “may assist her to identify compounds that bind to these proteins and thus have potential for drug discovery.”

Receiving AU$4.16 million in ARC funding together with AU$5.4 million from supportive industry partners and AU$2.9 million from partner universities, the centre will proceed to provide innovative Higher Degree by Research (HDR) and postdoctoral training for end-user focused research industries.

Striving for the future of international science, students and societies, the collaborative CFBD may be the missing fragment to Australia’s pharmaceutical sector advancement.