New WA centre to develop treatments for aggressive cancers


17 Nov 2023

A new research centre is set to launch in WA with a focus on capitalising on RNA technology to develop new treatments for aggressive and hard-to-treat cancers.

Called the Australian Centre for RNA Therapeutics in Cancer, the University of Western Australia-based facility is touted to create a new biotech industry which will attract leading researchers and improve outcomes for a wide range of cancers.

“Our proposed pilot projects will create treatments to improve outcomes for some of the most aggressive and hard-to-treat cancers such as pancreatic, triple negative breast, lung cancer and sarcoma,” said Australian Centre for RNA Therapeutics in Cancer chief investigator, Professor Archa Fox.

In a UWA statement [link here], Professor Fox said the researchers’ understanding of how to design, develop and test RNA as a precision genetic therapy would help herald a new era of personalised cancer therapies.

Minister for Science Stephen Dawson, Australian Centre for RNA Therapeutics in Cancer chief investigator Professor Archa Fox, UWA Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Anna Nowak, Cancer Research Trust Chairman Peter Mansell, Perkins Chair of Melanoma Discovery Professor Jonas Nilsson.

“We know people want less toxic and more effective treatments that can be delivered more easily. RNA may be one solution to these problems and our research will propel us along this translational pathway,” she said.

“Our deep knowledge base will attract national and international collaborators, venture capital and pharmaceutical companies to partner with our researchers in developing products.

“The centre will establish an mRNA production facility for research-grade RNA therapeutics in cancer and become a node for applying these in cancer treatment.”

Professor Anna Nowak, UWA Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), said the centre would enable RNA innovators to work hand-in-hand with oncologists, consumers and patient advocates to design, synthesise, test and improve pilot RNA products.

“The centre has the potential to improve cancer outcomes in WA and give local cancer researchers a powerful competitive edge,” Professor Nowak said.

The Cancer Research Trust has provided funding over five years.

Other funding partners include Therapeutic Innovations Australia, UWA, WA State Government, Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, Telethon Kids Institute, Cancer Council WA, Curtin University and global life sciences company Cytiva.

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