After more than a decade of successful collaboration and innovation and two rounds of Commonwealth funding through the CRC Program, today marks the final day of the Cancer Therapeutics CRC (CTx). Over the last 13 years CTx has made its mark on the drug development landscape with a multitude of achievements.
CTx has licensed multiple pre-clinical drug programs for further development and these have included two of the largest preclinical deals in Australia with international pharmaceutical giants, MSD and Pfizer respectively – each of which has given rise to an additional collaboration agreement between the CRC, Participant organisations and the pharmaceutical company.
In recent months, one of the programs developed during the first funding round, and subsequently licensed to Amplia Therapeutics, has received orphan drug designation and will be entering the clinic in late 2020.
Following close interaction with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Cancer Therapeutics CRC contributed to the publication of a Consensus Statement in Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology regarding the issue of early metastatic disease and a framework for the development of effective anti-metastatic agents. This is expected to be a seminal piece of work in the field.
The paediatric personalised medicine program, ZERO Childhood Cancer, that was initially funded through Cancer Therapeutics CRC, has grown to become a highly successful program that will be expanded to provide individual treatment recommendations to all children diagnosed with cancer by 2023.
It is easy to measure the success of the CRC using these and other examples, however arguably the biggest success to come out of this CRC is the collaborative model; the people and the relationships. CTx has developed a team of the best drug discovery experts in Australia, who know how to work effectively with the academic community to translate basic research findings into potential new medicines. In doing so, Cancer Therapeutics has shown the Australian biotech and medical research community how collaborative research can be performed and the heights that can be reached when teams of researchers from different organisations with different expertise form integrated drug discovery project teams that work together towards a single cause. This has forged strong relationships between individuals in participant groups that will last into the future. Many collaborations are likely to continue beyond the life of the CRC.
In addition, through internal professional development pathways and external education programs, the CRC has contributed to seeding the biotech community in Australia with highly skilled and trained individuals. CTx contributed to the development of the commercialisation internship – Molecules 2 Medicine (and later STEMM Central), and to subjects within the VCCC’s Masters of Cancer Sciences, in addition to providing funding for a large number of PhD scholarships.
As the CRC draws to a close, everyone involved in CTx has contributed to its success in one way or another and should feel extremely proud of what has been achieved. We thank each and every participant, member, and collaborator.