The Palaszczuk Government has opened the door for leading medical research institute QIMR Berghofer to develop better treatments for patients with multiple sclerosis and some cancers, and create more biomedical jobs in Queensland.
Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick said the government’s $1.4 million funding injection assisted the institute to secure a deal with US biopharmaceutical company Atara Biotherapeutics to manufacture immunotherapies for clinical trials locally and in the United States and Europe.
“Through our government’s support, QIMR Berghofer can now expand its cell therapy facility Q-Gen Cell Therapeutics, including purchasing specialised laboratory equipment,” he said.
“As a result of this facility upgrade, Atara has agreed to extend its agreement with QIMR Berghofer to collaborate on research and development of new immunotherapies for cancers and autoimmune disorders associated with a number of viruses.
“The two agreements will support 40 full-time jobs at QIMR Berghofer and its Q-Gen facility at Herston as well as grow QIMR Berghofer’s reputation as a world-leader in the immunotherapy field.
“Our government’s investment will strengthen our state’s push into the sophisticated advanced manufacturing of cell therapy products by enabling QIMR Berghofer to secure agreements and attract additional cell therapy manufacturing from not only Atara, but also other biomedical and pharmaceutical companies.
“Projects like this underpin the Queensland Biomedical 10-Year Roadmap and Action Plan, which was developed in close consultation with industry to diversify Queensland’s industry base, create high-value knowledge-based jobs of the future and drive export growth for the industry by 2027.”
Minister for Health Steven Miles said immunotherapy has emerged as the “fourth pillar” of cancer treatment, along with surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
“Immunotherapy works by training the immune system to recognise and destroy cancer and other harmful cells,” he said.
“These agreements put Queensland’s biomedical capabilities on the world stage.
“The upgraded facility will also attract clinical trials to Queensland that may otherwise be conducted overseas, which paves the way for QIMR Berghofer to develop better treatments for patients battling MS and some cancers.”
Member for McConnell Grace Grace said: “QIMR Berghofer is a world leader in cell therapeutics and cell therapy manufacture.
“It is already a huge source of pride for me knowing that Brisbane is home to such great work, but even moreso to know that investment from our government could help drive even greater advances in this medical field from right here in our state’s capital.”
QIMR Berghofer’s Director and CEO, Professor Frank Gannon, said the Queensland Government’s funding was a major boost for advanced manufacturing in the state.
“Q-Gen is the one of the largest dedicated cell therapy-manufacturing facilities in Australia,” he said.
“It is already a world-class facility that has secured regulatory approval to manufacture immunotherapies for clinical trials in Australia and the United States. It will now be upgraded to also manufacture for clinical trials in Europe and to meet the demand created by this deal with Atara.”
Atara’s Global Head of Research and Development, Dr Dietmar Berger, said he was excited about the collaboration with QIMR Berghofer and increasing biotechnology development in the region.
“Atara is delighted that the Queensland Government is supporting QIMR Berghofer, as well as the growth of the biotechnology community in Queensland,” he said.
The Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning and the Department of Health each contributed $700,000 in funding.
The Palaszczuk Government is actively supporting development of the biomedical sector through initiatives including:
- The $2 million Biomedical Assistance Fund which will deliver financial assistance to progress a biomedical product, process or service to a stage where it can attract follow-on funding from private and public sources
- The Queensland Biomedical Launchpad which will take a group of biomedical enterprises through an intensive program of mentoring on developing, validating and implementing their ideas
- A biomedical voucher program which will provide national and international biomedical companies access to Queensland’s biomedical service providers
- A program of business-to-business collaboration and information sharing initiatives which will help connect biomedical enterprises with the skills and knowledge they need to grow.
View the Queensland Biomedical 10-Year Roadmap and Action Plan here:https://www.statedevelopment.qld.gov.au/resources/plan/eid/biomedical-10-year-roadmap-and-action-plan.pdf
Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning
The Honourable Cameron Dick
Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services
The Honourable Steven Miles