Clunies Ross award for new cancer treatment

Clunies Ross award for new cancer treatment

Illuminate newsletter index page, September 2018
September 2018

Four men smiling at camera
(L-R) Professor Andrew Roberts, Associate Professor
Guillaume Lessene, Associate Professor Peter Czabotar
and Professor David Huang have received recognition
from the Australian Academy of Technology and
Engineering (ATSE).

Our researchers have been recognised for their role in the development of new anti- cancer medicine, venetoclax, receiving the 2018 Clunies Ross Knowledge Commercialisation Award.

Professor David Huang, Associate Professor Peter Czabotar, Associate Professor Guillaume Lessene and Professor Andrew Roberts received the award for their roles in the development of venetoclax, which involved a collaboration with the companies Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, and AbbVie.

Venetoclax (marketed as VENCLEXTA® and VENCLYXTO®) is now approved for clinical use in Australia, North America and Europe for the treatment of people with certain advanced forms of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), the most common type of leukaemia diagnosed in Australia.

The development of venetoclax has its foundation in a research discovery, made at the Institute in the 1980s, that a protein called BCL-2 can make cancer cells immortal by preventing a form of programmed cell death called apoptosis.

A rewarding journey towards benefitting patients

Professor Roberts said the initial clinical trials of venetoclax took place at sites including the Royal Melbourne Hospital and the Peter Mac, which meant Australian patients were the first in the world to benefit from the innovation.

“It’s rewarding to be part of a journey that has seen a fundamental discovery developed to benefit patients,” Professor Roberts said.

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