Drugs, diagnostics and vaccines

Drug Development

Natural products are a rich source of potential therapies and they still form the basis of many modern therapeutics. The Queensland Compound Library consists of 300,000 fractions from plants originating from tropical Queensland, PNG and China and is a unique resource used to ‘mine’ and identify new therapeutics.  The Library is unique in that it contains Australia’s largest collection of solubilised pure compounds (both naturally derived and synthetic). Identified drug target candidates will be evaluated using the combined expertise of the QTHA partners.  Specifically, compounds produced by chemists and stored in the QCL can be accessed by molecular biologists in their search for novel bioactivities. Key activities of researchers under this program are:

  • conducting high-throughput screens
  • targeted or rational drug development
  • development of novel therapeutics directed towards pathogen-derived toxins.

Such activities use state-of-the-art technologies with high-throughput capabilities such as Surface Plasmon Resonance (Biacore) and affinity screening for the identification of lead compounds and antibodies.

Diagnostics

QIMR, QUT and JCU have existing research programs aimed at developing novel or improved parasite diagnostics, including diagnostics for lymphatic filariasis, strongyloides and malaria.  One current deficiency in existing diagnostics for tropical diseases is that laboratory-based tests are often expensive and do not provide immediate results.  This can impede timely treatment and control. Current point-of-care tests (based on chromatographic cards) have an increasing role to play, however most are too costly for use by developing countries.  Scientists within the QTHA investigate relatively inexpensive validated pathogen detection platforms such as Real-Time PCR and liquid bead based assays as well as ‘dipstick’ technology.

Vaccine Development

Tropical vaccine research is a key platform of expertise within the QTHA. Queensland also has advanced expertise in animal models and product toxicology (via TetraQ), the ability to manufacture vaccine to human grade under GMP (via Q-Gen) and the facilities and experience to undertake clinical trials (via Q-Pharm). The state-of-the-art pre-clinical drug/vaccine imaging facility at QIMR is integral to fast tracking outputs from vaccine development programs.

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