Australian cancer research institute announces landmark funding deal

Source: Xinhua| 2017-07-27 13:30:16|Editor: Zhang Dongmiao
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MELBOURNE, July 27 (Xinhua) -- Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt on Thursday announced a landmark funding deal for cancer research in Australia centered around the promising drug Venetoclax.

Hunt announced that Melbourne's Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI) had sold part of the royalty rights to venetoclax, which took the institute three decades to develop, to CPPIB Credit Europe for an upfront cash payment of 250 million U.S. dollars.

Venetoclax, which was approved for use in Australia in January, has proven to be effective in helping patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) enter remission.

Doug Hilton, director of the WEHI, confirmed that the money, which could rise to 325 million U.S. dollars with potential milestone payments, would be re-invested into cancer research.

"The institute is proud of its contribution to the realization of this anti-cancer treatment and its potential to improve the lives of many patients around the world," Hilton told reporters in Melbourne on Thursday.

"Venetoclax demonstrates what success can look like for a collaborative, entrepreneurial and innovative medical research institute and why investment in basic research is so important.

"The institute's mission is to make discoveries for humanity and this income will help us deliver on that. It will enhance and accelerate our ability to make fundamental discoveries that can be translated into better treatments, bringing real benefits to patients on a global scale, as well as benefiting the Australian economy."

Part of the money will be invested in an endowment to ensure the long-term financial stability of the institute.

Christopher Thomas, president of the WEHI board, said the partial sale was a unique opportunity that would have been difficult to pass up.

"The institute decided to make a partial sale of rights to minimize the risks associated with the longer term volatility in the pharmaceutical marketplace," Thomas said.

"Having observed similar transactions by other research institutions, and then realizing venetoclax's potential, we decided this was the right approach for the Institute."