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“Smart Futures” Award a shot in the arm for vaccine and cancer therapy development

A new Queensland-US Vaccine Technology Alliance aims to develop novel vaccines for infectious diseases such as glandular fever, malaria, HIV and cytomegalovirus as well as cancers such as brain cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma and melanoma. This alliance will also focus on developing immune-based cellular therapies for human cancers and infectious complications in transplant patients.

The Alliance will combine expertise from two leading vaccine research organisations – the Australian Centre for Vaccine Development (ACVD) at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) and the Emory Vaccine Center (EVC) at Emory University in Atlanta.

The Alliance recently was awarded a three-year grant of $1.8M from the Smart Futures Fund of the Queensland National and International Research Alliances Program. Additional funding for the Alliance will be provided by the ACVD and the EVC, with total project funding from all sources equalling $8.5M over three years.

By expanding existing academic and research links, the ACVD and EVC plan to establish an internationally recognised vaccine research program and develop intellectual capital in the area of vaccine technologies, leading to the development of new vaccines for human infectious diseases and cancers.

“Despite our success in developing vaccines, many challenges remain in the fight against chronic infections and cancer,” says The Hon. Stephen Robertson MP, Queensland Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy and Minister for Trade. “This project will combine expertise from two leading vaccine research organisations in a collaboration that will uncover new technologies for developing and improving vaccines. Both organisations have strong links with the biotech industry and health institutions, which will help bring the research from bench to bedside, improving outcomes for patients.”

The new funding from the National and International Research Alliances program will significantly enhance the two vaccine centres’ collaborative research programs and allow them to leverage funding from various agencies and foundations for large-scale vaccine research and development.

According to Associate Professor Rajiv Khanna, PhD, Principal Investigator of the Smart Futures grant and Director of the Australian Centre for Vaccine Development and Head of the Tumour Immunology Laboratory at QIMR, “the Alliance will also provide local scientists an opportunity to develop new techniques as well as facilitate new links to the international biotech and pharmaceutical industries.”