New biotech company tackles hard-to-treat cancers

A new biotech company launched today will use a world-leading technology to target cancers that are difficult to treat with existing medicines.

The Hon Mark Butler MP
Minister for Health and Aged Care

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A new biotech company launched today will use a world-leading technology to target cancers that are difficult to treat with existing medicines.
In 2023, the Albanese Government awarded $15 million in funding to establish the Australian Centre for Targeted Therapeutics, a collaboration between experts from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI), the Children’s Cancer Institute and Monash University.
WEHI has now spun out Ternarx to form a globally competitive biotech company and commercialise targeted protein degrader medicines and technology.
Targeted protein degrader technology is designed to destroy the proteins that underpin cancers. Many types of cancer can be traced to proteins, but the majority of these do not respond to drug treatment.
150,000 Australians are diagnosed with cancer every year. Most of them will be treated with drugs developed over 25 years ago, many of which may have severe side effects.
Ternarx will develop new protein degrader technology to create next-generation cancer medicines with greater efficacy and fewer side effects.
Unlike conventional drugs that only inhibit the activity of proteins, targeted protein degraders can target and destroy disease-causing proteins, completely removing the proteins from the cancer.
Ternarx will initially focus on neuroblastoma and prostate cancer. If successful, the technology could be expanded to other types of cancer and disease-causing proteins, like those associated with currently untreatable inflammatory diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, and neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
The $15 million investment in Ternarx was from the Medical Research Future Fund’s (MRFF) Frontier Health and Medical Research initiative, which directs funding to pursue medical breakthroughs to solve persistent health issues.
Quotes attributable to Minister Butler:
“It is an honour to officially launch Ternarx, a significant and exciting addition to Australia’s growing, high-quality medical and biotech sector.
“The technology it is pursuing has huge potential to create the next generation of treatments for cancer and other diseases.
“Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and neuroblastoma tragically claims the lives of more children under 5 than any other cancer.
“Protein degrader technology promises cancer treatments that are more effective, with fewer side effects.
“With support from the MRFF, our brilliant researchers can turn their ideas into new treatments that have potential to save thousands of lives, not just here but around the world.”

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