MRFF backs Australia’s first Drug Target Identification Platform

Australia will establish its first Drug Target Identification Platform (DTIP) to provide target identification services to the Australian drug discovery community. The platform has been made possible by the Commonwealth Government’s Medical Research Future Fund National Critical Research Infrastructure (NCRI) Grant, which has invested $3 million into the Monash University-led program.

The NCRI program provides funding to establish and extend infrastructure of critical importance, and to conduct world-class health and medical research in areas of unmet medical need.

There is an urgent unmet need for target identification capabilities to support Australia’s drug discovery pipeline. Many promising biomedical discoveries fail to progress to clinical therapeutics due to poor efficacy, which is often underpinned by a lack of understanding about their mechanism of action.

The project is being led by the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS) in collaboration with Monash’s Faculty of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences, Griffith University, Australian National University, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Centre for Cancer Biology (University of South Australia), BioCurate, Canthera, BioIVT and the Children’s Cancer Institute (University of New South Wales).

Associate Professor Darren Creek from MIPS, who is leading the project, said that the primary objective is to establish a dedicated Drug Target Identification Platform based on state-of-the-art omics technologies to support the Australian drug discovery community and provide an efficient and unbiased avenue to identify drug targets and biomarkers.

“These new proteomics and metabolomics technologies at Monash will be complemented by transcriptomics, genomics and functional genomics assays at our partner institutes to provide a systems pharmacology evaluation of drug mechanisms,” said Associate Professor Creek.

“Alongside our collaborative partners, the DTIP team will work to address gaps within Australia’s current drug discovery pipeline by integrating world-leading expertise with recent advancements in technology to provide a much-needed, efficient avenue to identify drug targets for a broad range of diseases,” said Associate Professor Creek.

Director of MIPS, Professor Chris Porter said: “This funding will not only advance the development of this critical platform, it will also help to address Australia’s health security. By improving understanding of a drug's mechanism of action, we can hope to see much stronger outcomes for homegrown biomedical discoveries in the future.”

Monash has received more than $18m through the National Critical Research Infrastructure initiative as part of the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) for four research projects.