CCRM Australia looks to the new decade with Australia as part of a worldwide regenerative medicine network without borders
The coming decade is likely to bring significant advances in cell and gene therapies that will make expensive treatments cheaper — and Australia is poised to play a key role in global regenerative medicine partnerships.
The traditional approach of Australian discoveries heading overseas to develop and commercialise their research with international partners is changing. CCRM Australia CEO, Silvio Tiziani, says Australia can capitalise on the new model to drive global outcomes for people living with disease.
“We need to take some of the excellent research that’s done in Australia and make sure it leads to health benefits not just for Australians, but the rest of the world,” he says.
“Part of ensuring success is an international perspective; what we’re developing is for a global market and investment is likely to be global.”
Connecting across disciplines for better patient outcomes
Silvio says a global network like CCRM provides an understanding of developments across disciplines — helpful when a lot of researchers don’t stray too far from their comfort zone.
“By building relationships with academics and clinician-researchers, and by developing an industry consortium, we get a broad view of research in planning and projects already on the go, so we’re across possible synergies,” he explains.
“We work with investors who want to invest in science. We work with scientists who are doing research. We work with specialists in commercialisation who actually identify the technologies and translate them into, or help translate them into, products or therapies. We work with companies who are interested in manufacturing some of these therapies.”
“Great ideas can fizzle out because they need to be married with another technology. For example, researchers discovered an interesting molecule that had a therapeutic use but couldn’t reproduce it in numbers sufficient for therapy. CCRM helped identify the bioreactor technology that will enable mass-production — ExcellThera is the result of that partnership.”
Why companies want to do science in Australia
There are some critical reasons that Australia is already attracting a high level of interest and investment from overseas.
“Firstly, we do good science in Australia, and the world knows it. CCRM Australia manages enquiries from researchers around the world looking for Australian research or commercial partnerships. Our reputation for innovation precedes us, and we're on their collaboration wish list,” says Silvio.
“Cost is also a factor — the cost of doing research in Australia, particularly for overseas organisations, is significantly reduced by the Australian Government’s R&D tax incentive. It’s a significant attraction.”
Our regulatory environment also plays a role in upping our research and development reputation.
“We have a very good environment for doing clinical trials. So, when something’s ready for clinical trials, particularly phase one early-stage clinical trials, Australia is attractive because of overall cost along with the speed of approval processes and access to our diverse population,” says Silvio.
Clinical results sourced from quick, inexpensive, high-quality Australian trials provide a steppingstone for further clinical trials and entry into North American and Europen markets.
“We’re up there with the best research that's done around the world. And Australia has a good opportunity to stay at the leading edge of the research; we have government support, access to private investors and VC funds, and lots of interest from pharmaceutical companies.”
A bright decade of global partnerships ahead
The enthusiasm for Australian research and facilities has seen international companies approaching CCRM in the past year looking for ways to invest in Australian regenerative medicine.
“We’re thrilled to have support from the sector as what’s good for us is good for the future of regenerative medicine. We’ve worked with a number of international investors and collaborators, and there’s a small but growing number of Australian researchers and companies interested in developing relationships overseas,” says Silvio.
“Having those companies come to us looking to invest is a great reflection on the reputation of Australian regenerative medicine. And it’s a reminder that Australia needs to take part in global regenerative medicine activity because there are some significant benefits for our industry, especially for job creation but also for the health of Australians.”