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University-Led Drug Discovery Consortium Receives Government Support

A new multi-institutional facility, the NSW Organoid Innovation Centre, will be established and led by the University of Sydney. The Centre will employ the latest stem-cell technologies to speed up drug discovery and design, using organoids.

This ground-breaking approach has the potential to revolutionise drug development by allowing researchers to better understand the efficacy and safety of drugs in different organs of the body. With the University of Sydney leading the way, the NSW Organoid Innovation Centre is poised to drive innovative research and accelerate the development of effective treatments for a wide range of diseases.

The NSW Organoid Innovation Centre is set to receive a funding boost of AU$ 2.5 million from the NSW Government’s Emerging Industry Infrastructure Fund. In addition, the University of Sydney will invest a further AU$ 1.3 million in the centre. This collaborative effort also involves the University of NSW and the Children’s Medical Research Institute at Westmead. The funding injection will enable the centre to employ cutting-edge stem-cell techniques to accelerate drug discovery and design, with the aim of developing effective treatments for a range of diseases.

Professor Michael Kassiou, from the School of Chemistry and the Drug Discovery Initiative at the University of Sydney, will be heading the academic team at the centre. As a seasoned academic and a key player in the Drug Discovery Initiative, Professor Kassiou’s leadership will be instrumental in driving innovative research and pushing the boundaries of drug discovery using organoids.

According to Prof Kassiou, the establishment of the NSW Organoid Innovation Centre will significantly enhance the biomedical ecosystem in NSW, creating a world-class stem-cell research and drug discovery hub for Australia. The centre’s cutting-edge stem-cell techniques will facilitate the development of effective treatments for a wide range of diseases, positioning Australia at the forefront of innovative drug discovery research.

Organoids, often described as “mini organs in a dish,” are clusters of multiple cell types that self-organize and are derived from human stem cells. These cells can be obtained from a patient’s body to create clinically relevant testing sites in the laboratory.

This innovative approach allows researchers to better understand how drugs interact with different organs and develop more effective treatments for various diseases. The use of organoids is a significant breakthrough in the field of drug discovery, and their potential impact on clinical research and patient outcomes is immense.

Prof Kassiou explained that the centre’s approach to drug discovery involves testing existing drug types against the organoid cells in the laboratory. This technique bypasses several traditional steps in drug design and significantly increases the chances of success in developing effective treatments for various diseases. The use of organoids enables researchers to more accurately evaluate the efficacy and safety of drugs in different organs, leading to more targeted and personalised treatments.

In traditional drug discovery, animal surrogates are often used for testing purposes. However, the reliability of these surrogates in accurately predicting drug efficacy and safety in humans is not always guaranteed. Organoid technology offers a viable solution by serving as a bridge between initial drug discovery and direct testing in humans.

The approach has the potential to accelerate the development of relevant drugs for the treatment of various diseases. By using organoids, researchers can obtain more accurate and personalised information on how drugs work in different organs of the human body for more effective treatments.

To facilitate the development of precision drug-screening platforms that can handle stem-cell organoids rapidly and automatically, the University of Sydney is investing in robotic facilities for the NSW Organoid Innovation Centre. This investment will enable researchers to conduct large-scale drug screenings more efficiently, accelerating the discovery of effective treatments for various diseases.

The use of robotics will also ensure the accuracy and reproducibility of experimental data, leading to more reliable and credible results. The investment in robotic facilities underscores the University of Sydney’s commitment to innovation and cutting-edge research in the field of drug discovery.

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