Funding for new centre to propel Australia to forefront of cancer research
Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI) and the University of Newcastle (UoN) are pleased to announce they have received funding to establish the Australian Cancer Research Foundation Centre for Kinomics (ACRF-CFK) - an Australian-first that will provide an entirely new approach to the understanding of cancer therapeutic drugs and ways to improve them.
This significant, non-commercial initiative builds upon demonstrated research excellence, leadership and successful collaborations between scientists from CMRI and UoN. The ACRF-CFK will be equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation, thanks to generous funding from the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) who provided a $3.1 million grant, supplemented with additional funding of $1 million from the Ramaciotti Foundations.
The Centre for Kinomics is the brainchild of CMRI’s Professor Phil Robinson and UoN’s Professor Adam McCluskey, whose teams have worked together for more than 10 years. CMRI Director Professor Roger Reddel, who provides additional cancer research expertise to the Centre, describes the long-standing Robinson/McCluskey partnership as “extraordinarily dynamic and highly creative”.
Based at CMRI in Westmead and the University of Newcastle, the ACRF-CFK facilities will bring the new discipline of Kinomics to Australia and a completely novel drug design strategy. Researchers will be working to better understand the Kinome – the complete set of protein kinases that act as the “master switches” for all normal bodily cell functions. Errors in these kinases contribute to a large number of diseases, including cancer, neurological conditions, cardiovascular diseases, inflammatory conditions, and asthma.
Professor Robinson says, “The ACRF-CFK will enable us to closely examine the Kinome in any type of cell, especially cancer cells. The information will enable our scientific teams to better understand current cancer therapies and reasons for their unwanted side effects, as well as to develop new drugs for a multitude of human diseases, many of which are currently without any suitable treatment.”
“One of the things that is always at the back of our minds is that if you give someone a drug, there are going to be side effects, and that’s one of the things that slows the drug development pathway down immensely,” says Professor McCluskey. “You’ve got to try to figure out exactly where it’s hitting: is it hitting a good target or is it hitting a bad target?”
The ACRF-CFK opens the door to new ways of finding “good targets” and to translating basic research into new and improved therapies to benefit generations to come.
“We are confident that this new Centre for Kinomics will propel scientific discovery in Australia to the forefront of global research,” says Robinson. “But our real hope is we will come up with better drugs and better therapeutics for cancer patients and other indications.”