Early ACRF support of anti-cancer treatment results in landmark Australian deal

WEHI researchers, image courtesy of WEHI.

The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI) has made a landmark deal worth up to US$325 million from the partial sale of royalty rights in the anti-cancer treatment venetoclax. The rights have been acquired by Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and WEHI will retain partial royalties in the treatment.

Venetoclax is based on three decades of ground-breaking research into cancer cell survival, which lead to the creation of the treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia in collaboration with commercial partners.

WEHI director Professor Doug Hilton AO said that many important discoveries at the Institute laid the foundation for venetoclax’s development and the philanthropic support over the past 30 years, including grants from ACRF, have been a vital part of this journey of discovery.

Professor Doug Hilton AO said the Institute’s commitment to scientific excellence, innovation and its collaborative culture underpinned the successful translation of venetoclax.

“With venetoclax, we have shown the Institute has both the scientific determination and entrepreneurial acumen to take basic research all the way to being a clinical and commercial success, alongside our partners. This need not be a one-time event. Venetoclax is proof that Australian institutions can be key players in globally significant translation.”

 “Venetoclax demonstrates what success can look like for a collaborative, entrepreneurial and innovative medical research institute and why investment in basic research is so important.”

Professor Hilton also thanked WEHI’s long term partners and supporters.

“Discoveries are always the result of collaborations and teamwork. We recognise that our supporters are vital contributors to our research teams. Thank you for standing with us. I am proud that the Institute continues to uphold its promise to make discoveries for humanity. Together we can continue this important work,” said Professor Hilton.

The income generated by the partial sale of rights will be invested back into research at WEHI to fuel more discoveries. One of the priority areas will be to accelerate drug discovery, ensuring that potential new treatments will be taken from laboratories and translated into new treatments and diagnostics.

The news was first published on the WEHI website. 

You can find out more about the development of venetoclax on the discovery timeline.

ACRF has supported WEHI by providing three grants, totalling AUD 5.5million towards cutting edge cancer research equipment and technology.