ONJCRI Director, Prof Matthias Ernst has been named as one of two inaugural recipients of subsidised access to the newly opened National Drug Discovery Centre (NDDC) at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research.  The NDDC has been established to offer researchers in Australia access to state-of-the-art high-throughput screening to fast track the discovery and development of new medicines, so patients can benefit sooner.

The announcement was made on Thursday 12 March by Federal Health Minister the Hon Greg Hunt MP and Victorian Health Minister the Hon Jenny Mikakos MP at the opening of the NDDC.

This significant investment will enable Prof Ernst, and his team, to progress their pivotal work that aims to uncover how to make cancer more visible to the immune system and enhance the effect of anti-tumour immune therapies.

“We will identify lead compounds to inhibit a molecule in immune cells that otherwise suppresses the capacity of a patient’s immune system to kill cancer cells,” he said.

“Once these lead compounds have been identified, they provide a starting point to develop novel drugs and to test their efficacy in treating breast, bowel, pancreatic and other solid tumours”.

The announcement provides an exciting opportunity for Prof Ernst and his team to focus on scientific advances in cancer immunotherapy.

“Ultimately, these findings would serve as a starting point for the development of new anti-cancer drugs that could treat breast, bowel, pancreatic and other solid tumours,” Professor Ernst said.

Congratulations also to A/Prof Anthony Don, from the University of Sydney and Centenary Institute who was announced as the other NDDC recipient. A/Prof Don will, who will lead a project to develop new drugs that reverse systemic insulin resistance that causes type 2 diabetes.