National Drug Discovery Centre announces four new projects

National Drug Discovery Centre announces four new projects

21 September 2021


Pictured: (L-R) Dr Lauren May, Dr Bernhard Lechtenberg,
Associate Professor Rhys Allan, Dr Chengxue Helena Qin.

Four research projects have been awarded generous Australian Government subsidies to fast-track their discoveries into new medicines using the National Drug Discovery Centre.

The National Drug Discovery Centre (NDDC) provides Australian researchers with access to the latest in advanced robotic high-throughput screening to enable patients to potentially benefit from novel treatments sooner.

At a glance 

  • Four new research projects have been announced as beneficiaries of Australian Government subsidies to access the National Drug Discovery Centre, an important step towards the development of new medicines.
  • The projects will use the Centre’s screening technologies to create and improve treatments of allergic diseases such as asthma and hay fever, seizures and pulmonary hypertension, and establish a platform for novel protein degrader drugs against diverse targets and diseases.

New therapies for patient treatment

Dr Lauren May, from Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Monash University, will lead a project to develop new classes of medicines with the potential to treat drug-resistant epilepsy.

Dr Chengxue Helena Qin, from Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Monash University, and her team have identified a new protein target to treat pulmonary hypertension, a condition defined by high blood pressure in the lungs. Currently incurable, pulmonary hypertension is a fatal disease with a rapidly growing prevalence. The team will develop a suite of new compounds that will act on this protein to slow the disease progression.

Associate Professor Rhys Allan and Dr Christine Keenan in the Immunology Division at WEHI will lead a project to develop a new drug for the treatment of allergic diseases such as asthma and hay fever by targeting one of their root causes. They discovered an epigenetic enzyme that can serve as a novel therapeutic target in the immune cells that cause allergic disease.

Dr Bernhard Lechtenberg, from the Ubiquitin Signalling Division at WEHI, will spearhead a project to establish a platform for novel protein degrader drugs against diverse targets and diseases. Protein degraders (PDs) are a new drug technology that, instead of directly inhibiting their target like most current drugs, mark their target for destruction by natural processes. PDs thus have potential to target previously ‘undruggable’ proteins.

Next round

Round 5 applications for subsidised high-throughput screening are now open. The current round will close on 16 March 2022, and additional projects will be selected on a competitive basis by an independent expert panel. Read about how to apply.

Super Content: 
Scientist in the National Drug Discovery Centre

The NDDC enables medical researchers to access ultra-high throughput screening, fast tracking scientific discoveries into new medicines.  

Researcher facing news media crews

Catch up on our latest research discoveries and announcements.

Researchers and Health Minister with robotic equipment

The Australian Government has committed to $25 million in funding to enhance drug discovery capabilities at the Institute’s Drug Discovery Centre.