Melbourne-based Cancer Therapeutics Co-operative Research Centre – which Griffith University is a foundation participant of – has struck a blockbuster research partnership with global pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer that could eventually be worth as much as $US460 million ($650 million).

CTx CRC specialises in the “small molecule” approach to treating cancer by modulating — switching on or off — cancer-causing chemicals in the body, a more targeted approach than blasting cancers with radiation or chemotherapy.

Cancer Therapeutics CRC (CTx) was established in 2007.

Professor Vicky Avery heads the Discovery Biology team at the Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery, who are leaders in the field of high throughput screening and high content imaging. The Discovery Biology team use sophisticated image-based assays to support CTx projects such as those that lead to this collaboration with Pfizer.

Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) Professor Ned Pankhurst congratulated the CTx management on this outstanding partnership.

“Outcomes such as this highlight the incredible value of multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional collaborations to benefit from the scientific expertise within Australia,” he said.

“Griffith University is proud to be a contributing member of this successful team.”

Brett Carter, CEO of CTx, said: “We are very excited to work with a company of Pfizer’s calibre on the progression of these programs. This deal, together with the three prior deals for CTX technology, has the potential to return a billion dollars to Australia. Funds that will help support the biomedical sector and that can be ploughed into new drug discovery programs; providing opportunities for the world class team we have developed, and potentially leading to the delivery of new treatments for patients and economic benefits for the nation.”

Dr Robert Abraham, Senior Vice President and Group Head of Pfizer’s Oncology Research & Development Group said: “We are constantly searching the globe for the best science that has the potential to change the way we can treat people with cancer in the future. What we have found at CTx with these two chromatin modifying enzyme targets are very promising, differentiated programs that have the potential to provide new treatment options for patients.”

Asked why CTX had achieved such great success, Dr Ian Street, CTx CSO said: “Every new cancer drug starts with a great idea, however what Australia lacked was a good mechanism to convert these ideas into potential new medicines, and this is the niche that CTx has filled.”

About CTx

CTx is an oncology focused small molecule drug discovery and early development biotechnology group, established under the Australian government’s Cooperative Research Centre initiative. CTx’s unique partnership model leverages the capabilities and expertise of its Industry Participants with those of a number of Australia’s pre-eminent Medical Research Institutes and Universities. CTx’s Participants are the Children’s Cancer Institute, CSIRO, Griffith University, Melbourne Health, Monash University, National Cancer Centre Singapore, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Clinical Genomics, SYNthesis Research, CTxONE, Cancer Trials Australia, Medicines Development for Global Health Limited, Cancer Council of Victoria, Syneos Health and the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre.