Griffith launches two cancer research centres with $4.6m ACRF funding

Griffith University has launched two cancer research centres backed by $4.6 million in funding from the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) this month.

$2 million grant from the ACRF will fund a transformative compound management platform within the new ACRF Centre for Compound Management and Logistics at Compounds Australia – Australia’s only dedicated compound management facility.

Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery (GRIDD) Director Professor Katherine Andrews said Compounds Australia greatly appreciated the funding that would enhance this critical national research infrastructure and accelerate drug discovery and examination of diseases at the molecular level.

“Compounds Australia curates approximately 1.5 million compounds and natural product extracts and fractions, providing them to researchers in customised, assay-ready microplates for biological screening.

“This facilitates the identification of bioactive compounds with potential to become novel therapeutic candidates and accelerates research into the discovery and validation of new molecular targets.

“With the new equipment we have purchased, GRIDD can now provide one of the world’s first uses of ‘acoustic tube technology’ in an academic facility.”

“This technology allows a step change in existing acoustic liquid handling capabilities which Compounds Australia was first to adopt in 2007, allowing samples to transfer using bursts of sound waves to eject nano litre droplets from tubes to microplates,” Compounds Australia Facility Manager Rebecca Lang explained.

“This will enable a much more precise, efficient and faster automated process for drug development and new compound discoveries to target and fight diseases.”

ACRF CEO Kerry Strydom said the foundation supports pioneering research and seeks to accelerate outcomes.

“The Compounds Australia platform is going to do just that,” Ms Strydom said.

“If you look at the volume of the work that they are doing in terms of servicing the entire drug development community in Australia, it’s just phenomenal.”

In another Australian-first, the Institute for Glycomics has launched the ACRF International Centre for Cancer Glycomics with at $2.6 million ACRF grant, which is dedicated to deciphering the cancer glyco-code.

The centre will enable the Institute’s researchers to determine changes to the glycomics (carbohydrates/sugars) and their interactions with proteins and lipids (molecules that contain hydrocarbons and make up the building blocks of the structure and function of living cells) in a number of cancers.

“Our research will provide major advances in the early diagnosis of significant cancers, including skin, ovarian and breast cancer,” Institute for Glycomics Director Professor Mark von Itzstein AO said.

Professor Mark von Itzstein AO and Kerry Strydom with the chief investigators at the AFRC International Centre for Cancer Glycomics.

“This unique facility, with its diverse and multi-disciplinary team of researchers, will underpin the opportunity to better understand the glyco-code and lead to the translation of novel discoveries and clinical outcomes that will improve the lives of countless cancer sufferers around the world.”

Advanced mass spectrometry equipment forms the centrepiece of the ACRF International Centre for Cancer Glycomics, including the Orbitrap Eclipse Tribrid MS and the Hyperion Imaging Mass CyTOF.

“These two state-of-the-art instruments will add to and complement the existing resources and capabilities within the facility, enabling the brightest scientific minds in cancer glycomics research to deep mine the cancer glyco-code down to a single cell level,’’ Professor von Itzstein said.

The goal of the ACRF International Centre for Cancer Glycomics is to identify the glyco-language in cellular states that precede malignant transformation in serum, tissue biopsies and in vivo in a clinical scanner of patients at high risk for cancer as well as those with a malignancy.

The team of glycomics experts will work with surgeons, radiologists, scientists, and high-risk cancer clinics to develop early markers in high-risk cohorts and therapeutics based on inhibition of relevant protein targets.

This article was originally published by Griffith University. ACRF has been backing Griffith University since 2018, providing 6.6 million life-saving funds.