Research Network for Metals in Medicine



Many of the issues holding back the entry of new metal-based drugs into the clinic are generic and as such are best dealt with through national and international networks. Moreover, the techniques for studying metal metabolism (including new drugs) and metalloproteins in vitro, in cells and tissues, and in vivo, biological also use common facilities. Therefore, the aims of the proposed Network are to provide:

  • national research programs in cutting-edge research in metal-based drug design; metal metabolism and metalloproteins; and metal toxicity
  • national and international cross-disciplinary (drug design, metal metabolism, toxicology, clinical applications, and manufacturing) meetings, collaborations and exchanges to raise the profile of research involving Metals in Medicine
  • early-stage low-cost generic efficacy and toxicity testing (building on pre-existing facilities within the Network) for metal-based drugs and drugs that target metal metabolism or metalloenzymes in order to facilitate their patent protection and potential for further development into the pre-clinical and clinical phases
  • access to national and international spectroscopic and structural facilities for mapping the biochemical pathways of metal-based drugs and the metabolism of metal ions
  • a framework to develop large-scale grant applications for infrastructure and multidisciplinary research programs to deal with major generic research areas involving metals in medicine
  • a more effective use of research infrastructure of potential use to medicinal chemistry and bioinorganic chemistry of relevance to the network
  • mentoring processes for early-career researchers, including national and international exchange programs
  • a framework for the dissemination of evidence-based information to the pharmaceutical industry, investors, and clinicians on metals in medicine in order to realise the health and economic benefits of the research
  • a framework for international best practices into the commercialisation of the outputs of our research and to facilitate the entry of new treatments involving Metals in Medicine into clinical trials and the clinic; and
  • a framework for attracting more international clinical trials in Metals in Medicine to Australia from overseas researchers to the commercial and health benefits of Australia and Australians.

The opportunity that these linkages represent is in the development of a world class network in metals in medicine, which is an underexploited area of medicine. It offers an enormous potential for a niche development that builds on areas of particular strength in Australia. The combination of world class fundamental research in bioinorganic chemistry and metal-based drugs, an internationally competitive radiopharmaceuticals industry based at ANSTO and other centres, medium-sized companies with the ability to manufacture and market metal-based drugs, and a strong nucleus of clinicians who are internationally recognised at conducting clinical trials on metal-based drugs, places Australia in an ideal situation to develop a vibrant industry and develop frontier treatments for significant improvements in human health.

Specifically the Network seeks to facilitate and/or provide funding and access to the following:

  • Annual national meetings and other specialist meetings.
  • Access to national testing facilities (efficacy and toxicity) to facilitate early stage testing required to get further funding for moving fundamental discoveries to the clinic
  • Access to national facilities for characterising bioinorganic systems
  • National exchange programs to facilitate the better use of facilities and assist in major interdisciplinary research programs.
  • International exchange programs to send early career researchers and research students overseas and to host international research visits in Australia.
  • A network of basic scientists (biochemists, chemists, medical scientists, microbiologists, toxicologists), clinicians and pharmaceutical companies.
  • Web-based information for metals in medicine to be disseminated to clinicians, the pharmaceutical industry and the general public
  • Applications to join EU networks and to become involved in the Marie Curie fellowship programs
  • Joint grant applications to other international programs such as NIH and
  • Joint applications and submissions to Commonwealth and State government programs involving major infrastructure funding.

As indicated previously, Australia has all of the ingredients required to develop a vibrant export industry and to substantially improve the health outcomes of Australians through a Metals in Medicine network program. What has been lacking in the past is a mechanism to bring these ingredients together in a cooperative enterprise in order to develop such expertise to the maximum benefit of Australia and Australians. This Network will provide such a framework.