Official opening of New South Wales RNA institute

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The University of New South Wales RNA Institute has officially opened.

The institute has been established with a $25 million investment from UNSW Sydney as part of a NSW RNA Bioscience Alliance between NSW universities and the State Government.

“This is a significant milestone in the creation of the significant RNA ecosystem we are establishing here in NSW,” said investment and trade minister Stuart Ayres.

“A thriving NSW-based RNA industry underpinned by world-leading research talent will attract international investment and bring companies from all over the world to create high priority jobs in NSW within the $2 billion medical technology growth industry.”

Science and innovation minister Alister Henskens said the institute heralds a new era in the onshore development of novel RNA technologies and therapies post-pandemic and will play a vital role in the commercialisation of research.

“RNA-based therapeutics can also be applied to a rapidly expanding category of drugs, diagnostics and treatments for other diseases including cancer and autoimmune disorders,” said Mr Henskens.

“Working together with other University partners in the NSW Bioscience Alliance, research into these novel technologies will allow us to not only lead the way in the fight against disease, but to boost productivity through innovation and create jobs for the future.”

UNSW vice-chancellor and president Professor Attila Brungs said the institute will draw together UNSW’s existing world-renowned expertise in this area to provide a vibrant foundation for increased collaboration and critical advances in RNA.

“UNSW is home to some of the best scientific minds in the world in this field. In creating this Institute, we have brought together scientists, engineers, and medical researchers to work on key bottlenecks at the frontier of RNA science and medicine,” he said.

“We are proud to collaborate with the NSW Government, industry and academic partners to drive the development of an industry which is going to have a profoundly positive impact on human health.”

The Institute will conduct pre-clinical trials for the treatment of COVID-19 and cancer using RNA-based therapeutics manufactured in NSW. Its expected pilot-scale production of siRNA for use in RNA-based therapeutics will be conducted by June this year.

Institute director Professor Pall Thordarson said the RNA revolution is just getting started.

“Some of the projects the Institute will look at range from conducting pre-clinical trials for the treatment of cancer, unravelling the complex roles that RNA has in brain development and developing short RNA based COVID-19 treatment such as inhalers,” he said.