The Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Christopher Pyne, has highlighted the development of an Australian-discovered therapy under a collaboration involving AbbVie to promote the importance of the Melbourne-based Synchrotron.
Senior representatives of AbbVie, including medical director Dr Jonathon Anderson, attended Mr Pyne's announcement that the Government has agreed to support the transfer of ownership of the Australian Synchrotron to the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO).
The announcement follows last year's commitment by the Government to fund the Synchrotron under the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA).
“The Government committed $520 million to the Synchrotron as part of the NISA, to operate the Australian Synchrotron for the next decade, should the facility transfer to ANSTO,” said Mr Pyne.
The Australian Synchrotron is a research facility that uses accelerator technology to produce a powerful source of light – x-rays and infrared radiation – a million times brighter than the sun.
It supports a broad range of high quality research, with applications across medicine, nanotechnology, manufacturing and mineral exploration.
According to Mr Pyne, “This will ensure continual access to the unique properties of the Synchrotron’s light beams, as researchers will be able to reveal in exquisite detail the innermost structures of a range of materials. This has applications for many industries, including mining, manufacturing, food security, the environment, energy, bio-security and health.”
As part of the announcement, Mr Pyne met with researchers involved in the development of venetoclax, a potential therapy for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.
The research team are using the Synchrotron to obtain highly detailed three-dimensional images of protein structures, enabling the development of the therapy.
Venetoclax was discovered in Australia and is being developed as part of a collaboration including AbbVie.
“While they may not know it, the Synchrotron affects many Australians every day. It has allowed medical researchers to make critical breakthroughs in health care, supporting the development of life-saving treatments,” Mr Pyne said.
“Given the importance of the Synchrotron, it is not surprising that many champions and supporters of science, research and innovation have worked behind the scenes to position the Government to make this decision.”
The transfer of ownership is expected to happen in July 2016, subject to successful negotiations with shareholders, including the Victorian Government.