Precision medicine to be advanced by international collaboration

Individualised precision medicine to treat a range of human diseases will be the focus of the newly formed Monash University Network of Excellence for Molecular Imaging and Precision Radiopharmaceuticals.

The Network aims to create highly sophisticated theranostics by combining precision therapies with high-resolution patient imaging for application in cancer, cardiovascular and infectious diseases, and neurological and neurodegenerative diseases.

State-of-the-art patient scanning techniques using technologies such as a simultaneous magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography (MR-PET) scanner will be integrated with leading biomedical imaging research, equipment design and clinical work.

The highly multidisciplinary team will include Monash University scientists along with researchers from Germany and Canada, with backgrounds in physics, chemistry, biomedical imaging, advanced nano-bio-technologies, and immunotherapy.

The Network strengthens Monash University’s existing relationship with Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden Rossendorf (HZDR) in Germany and supports a new collaboration with The University of British Columbia (UBC) and TRIUMF, which is Canada’s particle accelerator centre. By combining the knowledge and expertise of these leading global institutions, this collaboration promises highly significant research and clinical outcomes for a wide range of human diseases.

The Monash University team will focus on the discovery science and translational development of novel diagnostic and therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals.

The Network’s Monash University Lead Chief Investigator, Professor Gary Egan said “The ultimate goal of this international collaboration is to prolong survival and improve the quality of life for patients with life-threatening diseases worldwide.”

“We expect the Network will also attract exceptionally talented post-graduate students and give them a unique opportunity to enhance their skills by undertaking joint Monash-HZDR and Monash-UBC research training programs.”

Monash University Chief Investigators with the Network include Professors Gary Egan (Monash Biomedical Imaging), Chris Porter (Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences), Phil Andrews and Bart Follink (School of Chemistry), Meng Law (Department of Neuroscience and Alfred Health Radiology), Associate Professor Christoph Hagemeyer and Dr Karen Alt (Central Clinical School).

The Network will also play a critical role in the proposed Australian Precision Radiopharmaceuticals Facility in the Monash University Innovation Precinct. This Facility, in partnership with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation and the Australian Synchrotron, will be a leader in new radioactivity-based technologies for treating major causes of human disease.

The proposed Facility will incorporate a medium energy cyclotron, provide space for future medical accelerator technologies, include radiochemistry and radiopharmaceutical research and production laboratories, and an innovation centre.

The Precision Radiopharmaceuticals Facility will integrate with the Victorian Heart Hospital, currently under construction in the precinct, as well as with the Monash University antibody targeting, nanofabrication, and computing technology research platforms. The Facility will focus on the production of antibody-targeted materials incorporating radioisotopes that have the potential to provide improved diagnosis and treatment options for a range of human diseases.

The Facility will accelerate antibody engineering and nanotechnology research towards the development of more potent radio-therapeutics, improved diagnostics, and new polymer system technologies.