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UniQuest, The University of Queensland’s (UQ) main commercialisation company, has announced a A$4.3 million strategic alliance with Axiom Molecular Pty Ltd in radiopharmaceutical research, development and commercialisation.

The Centre for Advanced Imaging (CAI) at UQ will allow Axiom Molecular to use its facilities to produce Positron Emission Tomography (PET) radiopharmaceuticals for diagnosing cancer and brain disorders.

Axiom Molecular has also made an equity investment in MoleQular Pty Ltd, a start-up company formed with UniQuest, to research, develop and commercialise novel radiopharmaceuticals.

UniQuest Managing Director, David Henderson,  the agreement was the first of its kind for both UQ and Axiom Molecular, a subsidiary of one of Asia-Pacific’s largest healthcare enterprises.

“It’s a multi-faceted agreement that will advance the scientific and commercial objectives of all stakeholders,” Mr Henderson said.

“Axiom Molecular will use CAI facilities to produce radiopharmaceuticals to international standards, predominantly 18-Fludeoxyglucose (FDG).

“CAI researchers will be able to use the laboratory area which Axiom Molecular enhances to a Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) environment. This will enable the CAI with GMP capability for its own research as well as research collaborations with other Australian researchers and biotechnology companies.

“Axiom Molecular will also fund scholarships for Research Higher Degree students at UQ, which demonstrates a clear commitment to ongoing research in radiopharmaceuticals, one of the fastest growing nuclear medicine fields in the world.

“Radiopharmaceuticals are becoming increasingly important for early detection of diseases like cancer and for developing new treatments. The formation of MoleQular and the strategic alliance with Axiom Molecular reflects the commitment of UQ and the CAI to work closely with private industry to make world-class university research and infrastructure available for the benefit of society,” Mr Henderson said.

UniQuest will license a radiopharmaceutical technology, which was discovered by CAI researchers, to MoleQular Pty Ltd. The start-up will fund several radiopharmaceutical research and development projects at UQ.

MoleQular, with the benefit of Axiom Molecular’s expertise in the production, sales and distribution of commercial radiopharmaceuticals, will be responsible for commercialising the outcomes from the R&D projects. Joint teams will oversee and steer the development and commercialisation process.

Axiom Molecular’s Managing Director, Mathew Farag, said the strategic alliance with the CAI would deliver a major objective of Axiom Molecular’s larger strategy to supply radiopharmaceuticals to public and private hospitals throughout Australia and the Asia Pacific region.

“We quickly recognised the strengths in the capabilities and people within the CAI, and through business discussions with UniQuest, we came to see how we could realise additional value in our relationship with UQ,” Mr Farag said.

“The outcome is this innovative alliance with UniQuest, including our corporate venture investment in MoleQular, which has the potential to deliver a number of new technologies and products to the global radiopharmaceutical market.”

Director of the CAI, Professor David Reutens, said his team was delighted to have Axiom Molecular as a long-term collaborative industry partner.

“I am also excited by the alliance, because UQ is the lead institution of the National Imaging Facility,” he said.

“This agreement will provide researchers around the country with access to a radiopharmaceutical GMP capability to test new radiopharmaceuticals. This collaboration adds considerable value to the CAI, which has received funding not only from UQ but also from Federal and Queensland Government.

“Strong industry collaborations mean that world-class CAI research has a better chance of being commercialised, contributing to personalised medicine around the world,” Professor Reutens said.
 

Media enquiries:
UniQuest: Leanne Wyvill +61 7 3365 4037, 0409 767 199 or l.wyvill@uniquest.com.au
Axiom Molecular: Mathew Farag +61 2 8083, 0422 414 148 or mathew@axiommolecular.com
Centre for Advanced Imaging: Rebecca Osborne +61 7 3365 4235 or rebecca.osborne@cai.uq.edu.au

Strategic alliance summary

  • The total transaction value of the deal is A$4.3 million.
  • Axiom Molecular gains multi-year use of CAI facilities to produce Positron Emission Tomography (PET) radiopharmaceuticals for the diagnosis of cancer and brain disorders.
  • Axiom Molecular will enhance a laboratory in the CAI to a Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) environment.
  • CAI researchers are able to use the GMP capability for its own research as well as research collaborations with other Australian researchers and biotechnology companies.
  • Axiom Molecular will fund a number of scholarships for Research Higher Degree students at UQ.
  • Axiom Molecular will make a corporate venture equity investment in MoleQular Pty Ltd, a start-up company formed with UniQuest, to research, develop and commercialise novel radiopharmaceuticals for the diagnosis of cancer and brain disorders.
  • UniQuest will license to MoleQular Pty Ltd a radiopharmaceutical technology which was discovered by CAI researchers at UQ and which is the subject of a patent application.
  • MoleQular will fund several radiopharmaceutical research and development projects at UQ including that already licensed from UniQuest in the founding agreement.
  • MoleQular, with the benefit of Axiom Molecular’s expertise in the production, sales and distribution of commercial radiopharmaceuticals, will be responsible for the commercialisation of the outcomes from the R&D projects. These projects will benefit from joint teams that will oversee and steer the development and commercialisation process.

About Axiom Molecular
Axiom Molecular was recently established to provide radiopharmaceutical products, equipment and world class services to the nuclear medicine community in the Asia Pacific region. Axiom Molecular is led by Jay Simon, CEO, and Mathew Farag, Managing Director, who together have over 40 years of combined expertise in radiopharmaceuticals and nuclear medicine.

About the Centre for Advanced Imaging www.cai.uq.edu.au
The CAI represents a major enhancement of the imaging capabilities at The University of Queensland. It brings together the skills of a critical mass of researchers in a new 5-story facility (due for completion in 2012) which will house a cyclotron (an IBA Radiopharma Solutions Cyclone ® 18/9), radiochemistry, ultra-high field human MRI instrumentation and other ‘state-of-the-art’ research imaging instruments. Radiotracer development and production in-house will support leading edge molecular imaging programs utilising the PET-CT and MR-PET facilities. It is the only facility of its type in Australia, and one of only a handful in the world. The University of Queensland is the lead institution in the National Imaging Facility (NIF; http://www.anif.org.au/). Across NIF's grid of imaging facilities with nodes in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, it provides a range of leading-edge imaging instrumentation and advice and assistance in the optimal use of imaging to the Australian research community. The CAI has been funded by the Commonwealth Government through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) and the Education Investment Fund (EIF) and by the Queensland Government.

About Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and radiopharmaceuticals
Radiopharmaceuticals are important in the diagnosis and management of cancer, brain disorders and cardiac disease. 18-Fludeoxyglucose (FDG) is the most common radiopharmaceutical in clinical use. It targets increased metabolic activity, a signature of tumours. After a patient has received an injection of FDG, images are acquired with a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanner. While computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging primarily provide information about anatomical structure, PET can image and quantify biochemical and/or physiological function. This is important because functional changes caused by disease are often detectable before any structural abnormalities become evident.