Latest MMI grant serves $23 million to precision medicine


Brandon How
Reporter

The latest grant under the Modern Manufacturing Initiative is worth $23 million and will support the production of precision medicine and theranostics in Australia.

The MMI collaboration stream grant will support a $71.2 million Australian Precision Medicine Enterprise (APME) Project being jointly undertaken by Global Medical Solutions (GMS), Telix Pharmaceuticals, and Monash University.

The facility is being built at Clayton in Victoria and will produce an estimated $461.8 million economic impact over 15 years, the government says. The centrepiece will be a high energy cyclotron to produce radioisotopes, which are useful in making diagnoses and treatments, but have been predominantly imported.

The Australian Precision Medicine Enterprise facility will host a high energy cyclotron to produce radioisotopes.

Australia’s Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation says theranostics is the use of paired radioactive agents that are for diagnosis and therapeutic treatment of a tumour or infection.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the three-year project would help develop Australia’s medical manufacturing capability.

“Making medicines like these right here means more security from disruptions, more homegrown skills and more local jobs,” the Prime Minister said.

“Building up our ability to make products like these is key to our plan for a stronger future. The pandemic has shown us more than ever before we need access to what Australians need here at home and this project will help ensure we have critical precision medicines for our patients.

“APME will help cement precision medicine development here in Australia, also helping deliver a stronger economy by growing opportunities for our medical sector and the highly-skilled jobs it supports.”

The partners are also contributing a combined $41.2 million. GMS is making the largest contribution at $25 million, followed by $11 million from Monash University, and $5 million from Telix Pharmaceuticals.

Located at the Monash technology Precinct, APME will be neighbours with Monash University, Monash Biomedical Imaging Centre, neuroscience research clinic BrainPark, the Victorian Heart Hospital, and the Australian Synchrotron.

Telix chief executive officer Dr David Cade said this project would fill a crucial need in Australia’s medical capability.

“Australia is a leading innovator in terms of clinical development and isotope supply for nuclear medicine, which was recently included in the Australian Government’s list of critical technologies in the national interest. However, there remains a significant need to achieve sovereign isotope and drug product manufacturing capabilities suitable for the future of the industry, both commercially and academically,” Dr Cade said.

GMS senior vice-president operations and business development Shahe Bagerdjian said APME would “address supply security concerns for Australia as well as accelerate Australia’s rise as the premier destination as a regional biotech hub.”

Similarly, Monash University president and vice-chancellor Professor Margaret Gardner said that “the establishment of the APME is a key asset for the future of innovative medicines manufacturing. The APME is vital for Australia to have a sovereign capability to manufacture and commercialise clinically essential radiopharmaceuticals as well as new theranostic drugs for cancer treatments.”

The Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI) received an additional $750 million in this year’s budget of which $500 million will go towards regional businesses. It was revealed last Friday that although the Modern Manufacturing Strategy, which includes the MMI, has committed $900 million in grants, only $113 million has reached manufacturers.

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