Drug discovery platform receives funding, providing a new approach for infectious and chronic disease treatments

person wearing a white lab coat performing chemistry experiments in a fume hood

A drug discovery platform developed by researchers from the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS) has received funding to target polynucleotides (RNA and DNA). These target classes are key to viral and bacterial infections that represent a key global health security risk and are also central drivers of many chronic non-infectious diseases.

The platform is being led by Professors Bernie Flynn, Martin Scanlon and Colin Pouton, all from MIPS, with funding from CSIRO through CUREator, a national biotechnology incubator run by Brandon BioCatalyst to support the development of Australian biomedical research and innovations.

The funding provided by CSIRO through CUREator aims to strengthen Australia’s health security by supporting promising projects across fields including emerging infectious diseases and pandemics research.

As such, the MIPS group will focus on responding to the risk of viral and bacterial replication through the development of a platform capability in polynucleotide fragment based drug design (pFBDD) that is better able to discover small-molecules for targeting RNA and DNA.

The MIPS-designed platform was identified by CUREator as a particularly promising innovation due to the groups impressive track record in improving the efficiency with which small molecule modulators of protein function can be identified and optimised into a drug molecule for therapeutic use.

Professor Bernie Flynn said with the CUREator support, the group aims to create a world-leading capability in pFBDD and attract commercial support for its ongoing development.

“To date, our group has achieved considerable progress towards generation of the key components that underpin pFBDD development. This funding will enable our team to bring together the knowledge and skill-set of MIPS researchers to advance this project and help provide a national resource to address the global health security risk of viral and bacterial infection and resistance,” said Professor Flynn.

CUREator is delivered through an initial $40m in funding from the Federal Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) and $3m from Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO. CUREator was established by Brandon Capital in 2021 as a new approach for bridging the gap between where research grant funding ends and commercial investment begins.