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Three projects selected to receive funding under an “open innovation” program could lead to new treatments for ovarian cancer, liver disease, and lung and colorectal cancers.

The funding was made available under a collaboration established in 2015 between pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and UniQuest – The University of Queensland’s commercialisation company.

The collaboration involves the joint funding of UQ research projects to repurpose preclinical and clinical compounds from AstraZeneca by identifying new medical uses for them instead of the diseases for which they were originally intended.

UniQuest CEO Dr Dean Moss said researchers had been awarded “proof-of-concept” funding to conduct investigations with the targeted drugs and diseases.

“We are delighted to announce that our collaboration with AstraZeneca in this innovative public-private partnership has led to the funding of three initial projects.

“This program is another example of universities collaborating with industry to find new solutions to unmet market needs.

Based on the outcome of the research, AstraZeneca will have the option to negotiate a license with UniQuest for rights to the new data in order to progress these projects to market.

“AstraZeneca has played an important role in the creation of similar open innovation collaborations around the world and we were proud to be their first partner in Australia.” Dr Moss said.

Lorraine Webber, Head, Emerging Innovations at AstraZeneca said that the company collaborates with scientists from around the world in an effort to bring new medicines to patients faster.

“The collaboration with UniQuest and the University of Queensland aims to help us accelerate innovation, explore new uses of existing molecules and advance scientific knowledge,” said Webber.

 

The projects that have been chosen to receive funding are:

·         Targeting inflammation to help reduce fibrosis in chronic liver disease, led by Dr Matthew Sweet (UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience)

·         Potential new therapies for serous ovarian cancer, led by Associate Professor John Hooper (Mater Research Institute-UQ)

·         A combination approach to sensitise lung and colon tumour cells to chemotherapy, led by Professor Michael McGuckin (Mater Research Institute-UQ)