Cancer remains the leading cause of death in Australia. Against this backdrop, the government is supporting the home-grown oncology research with committed funding. Moreover, the research collaborations between the Australian institutes and pharma companies will further help expedite the overall research developments, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
In June 2021, Australia announced an investment of US$180m in ground-breaking medical research, including US$18.4m as part of the 2020 Pediatric Cancer Grant Opportunity and 2020 Childhood Cancer Research Grant Opportunity to improve treatment, therapies, and survival rates for Australian kids. According to Cancer Australia, over US$252m funds were released for cancer research between 2016 and 2018. Australian government was the largest funder, which provided more than US$187m accounts for 74% of total funds.
The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI) partnered with Boehringer Ingelheim in June 2021 to discover and develop anti-cancer therapeutics using new technology involving targeted protein degradation. In the same month, Pfizer Centers for Therapeutic Innovation has forged an oncology-focused research collaboration with St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research (SVI) to identify potential new small molecules that target the DNA damage response.
Boehringer Ingelheim is the second partner for WEHI this year as ONK Therapeutics has obtained an exclusive license for WEHI’s CISH knockout NK cells to treat cancer in May 2021.
Ms. Bhavani Nelavelly, Pharma Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Australia is providing several grants and collaborative research schemes to boost the research carried out by the research institutes, accounting for major early-stage research in oncology.”
According to GlobalData’s Pharma Intelligence Center, WEHI, The University of South Australia, Monash University, and The University of Queensland are the major research institutes in Australia, accounting for approximately 50% of the total oncology research by research institutions. As of 11 August 2021, there are 60 drugs across Phase II, Phase I, Phase 0, preclinical and discovery stages by research institutions in Australia. In addition, from 2016, there were 31 strategic alliance deals executed between research institutes and pharma companies for oncology research.
Ms. Nelavelly concludes: “A significant number of collaborations between Australian research institutes and pharma companies involving novel oncology drugs in recent years further signifies the increasing importance of cancer research in Australia.”