Research Network for Metals in Medicine



Metals are essential nutrients for all organisms and their uptake and distribution is controlled tightly in healthy humans by normal metabolic processes. Either a deficiency or an overload of metal ions can lead to serious health problems. In addition, metal-based drugs have had a large impact on improved health outcomes in areas as diverse as: the treatment and diagnosis of cancer, effective control of bipolar disease, anti-inflammatory drugs, anti-microbials, etc. Despite major clinical successes in the use of metal-based drugs, little research is being conducted by big pharma in the area. This can be attributed to the lack of appropriate expertise and concerns about metal-based toxicity (which is misplaced, as most organic drugs exhibit toxicity issues at least as significant as metal-based drugs and which must be overcome for clinical use).

Recently, Metals in Medicine has been recognised internationally as an important area for increased funding through a special NIH (US) program (one emphasis being metal-based toxicity), the new Metals in Medicine Gordon Conferences and two EU COST collaborative programs. In addition, the importance of metal imbalances in diseases, including neurodegenerative diseases, has become increasingly evident and metals are emerging as targets for the treatment of many other diseases, including cancer (Fe and Cu), atherosclerosis, and diseases caused by pathogenic organisms. There also new and selective chelation therapies for heavy metals poisoning and diseases associated with metal overload. While the roles of metals in human disease conditions (for treatment and diagnosis of diseases and as targets of treatments) are rapidly expanding, comparatively little attention has been paid to these areas compared to major focus of big pharma on areas of organic drug design and gene therapy.

The vision is to forge a Network to generate a vibrant local manufacturing industry and improved health outcomes by exploiting Australia's innovative and internationally recognised research in bio-inorganic chemistry as it relates to human and veterinary health. The Network will bring together Australia’s prominent expertise in metal-based drug design, metal metabolism, metal imbalance diseases, bioinorganic chemistry of metalloproteins, radiopharmaceuticals, pharmacology, and pre-clinical and clinical research. It will produce a vibrant research and development environment aimed to exploit this expertise for improved health and economic outcomes for Australia. We invite expressions of interest from other industrial or institutional partners who may wish to pursue a collaborative involvement consistent with these aims.



Funding assistance from the Australian Research Council is gratefully acknowledged

Australian Research Council

Copyright © The University of Sydney 2004

Jan 2004 (LCW)