Launch of new Queensland-based research and manufacturing hub targeting precision medicines

The University of Queensland has announced that a new research and manufacturing hub has started work on a range of potential precision cancer treatments.

The new Australian Research Council (ARC) Hub for Advanced Manufacture of Targeted Radiopharmaceuticals (AMTAR) is a one-stop shop that connects biotechnology companies with the expertise and equipment required to design, test, and deliver precision cancer treatments.

It was created by a $5 million ARC grant and more than $10 million in industry support. The AMTAR hub will operate out of UQ’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) with support from collaborators across the radiopharmaceutical supply chain.

Hub leader and AIBN research director 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,” said Professor Thurecht.

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

Professor Thurecht said radiopharmaceuticals offered 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,” said Professor Thurecht.

“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.”

AMTAR is a collaboration between UQ, 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 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,” said Dr Johnson.

Telix Chief Scientist, Dr Michael Wheatcroft, added, “AMTAR will accelerate the development and commercialisation of novel radiopharmaceuticals in Australia and the team of high quality industry, academic and research partners will enable the translational science required to bring these innovative new technologies to patients.:

/Public Release. View in full here.