AUSTRALIAN CENTRE FOR CANCER GLYCOMICS (A2CG)
All human cells are extensively decorated with a range of complex sugar moieties (glycans), which form the host cell glycome. These glycans are utilised as receptors for a variety of carbohydrate-recognising proteins, and the inter-cellular interactions between glycans and proteins play an essential role in how cells communicate with each other and their environment. Not surprisingly, they also play critical roles in maintaining health and in the pathogenesis of disease, including cancers. Yet, the language of glycan interactions remains poorly understood, particularly when compared to our knowledge of the genome and proteome. The technology required to sequence the glycome for human clinical tissue has only recently been developed, and the Institute's Australian Centre for Cancer Glycomics is pioneering this field. Extensive investment into the understanding of cancer genomics and proteomics has led to tremendous advances in cancer care. Despite this, biomarkers for many cancers remain unidentified following proteomic and genomic analyses, suggesting critical knowledge is missing. An increasing body of literature indicates that the cancer glycome is of equal importance to understanding disease pathogenesis as the genome and proteome. The glycome represents an underexploited aspect of cancer research, and is an important key to preventing, diagnosing and treating cancers. The A2CG was established in 2017 and has state of the art equipment and infrastructure, coupled with the brightest scientific talent in the field of cancer glycoproteomics and drug discovery that makes the A2CG an exciting hub of truly revolutionary research. The Institute's A2CG takes a highly integrated, systematic approach to identifying important cancer biomarkers and tumour-associated carbohydrate antigens (TACAs), underpinned by a strategic focus geared towards translational outcome that drives discoveries from the laboratory bench to the patient bedside.
THE HONDA FOUNDATION PANDEMIC INFLUENZA RESEARCH LABORATORY
Influenza remains a significant disease with major health impact. This Laboratory, headed by Prof Mark von Itzstein and in collaboration with international partners, is at the forefront of anti-influenza drug discovery and rapid response to emerging influenza viruses. Our partnerships in China and Europe provide for the discovery of new preventatives and therapies against this very contagious virus. These partnerships have discovered novel chemical entities that are drug-like molecules targeting key components of the influenza virus' life cycle and are now under further investigation as potential drugs.
AUSTRALIAN RESEARCH COUNCIL CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE IN NANOSCALE BIOPHOTONICS (CNBP)
As a node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics, the CNBP team at Griffith University provides specialized glycan knowledge and expertise that aids the Centre in its objectives of improving understanding and knowledge of cell communication and the nanoscale molecular interactions in the living body. Notably, every living cell is covered by a dense layer of sugar containing molecules, so called glycoconjugates. These glycoconjugates consist of glycoprotein and glycolipids, which are part of a universal language (glycome) that cells use to communicate. Understanding and translating this glyco-language is one key capacity required to understand all the biological challenges in the CNBP. During the first 3 years of the Centre these sugars have been found to be key to signalling between brain cells, the formation of plaque in arteries and the interaction of egg and sperm as well as the implantation of the embryo into the uterus. Ongoing research will examine these and other areas further. Research expertise across the team includes tissue microdissection glycomics, glycopeptide synthesis, glycobiology in health and disease, MALDI-imaging glycomics as well as mass spectrometric glycan analysis.
LABORATORY OF VACCINES FOR THE DEVELOPING WORLD
The Institute's Laboratory of Vaccines for the Developing World is led by Prof Michael Good and is comprised of a dedicated team of postdoctoral researchers, research assistants, regulatory experts and graduate students working in collaboration with Australian and international researchers. The current focus of the laboratory is the development of a Group A Streptococcal vaccine candidate and a malaria vaccine candidate, known as PlasProtect®. PlasProtect® is the world’s most advanced blood-stage, whole parasite, malaria vaccine candidate and uses whole malaria parasites that overcomes the limitations of sub-unit vaccine approaches. PlasProtecT® is currently in human clinical trials.
FRAUNHOFER ITEM & INSTITUTE FOR GLYCOMICS JOINT LABORATORY FOR ANTI-INFECTIVE RESEARCH
Researchers from the Institute for Glycomics have partnered with researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Toxicology and Experimental Medicine and the Hannover Medical School, Hannover Germany in an internationally-funded program called ‘iCAIR: Fraunhofer International Consortium for Anti-Infective Research’ to develop new anti-infective drugs. The consortium aims to discover new treatments to combat respiratory viruses including influenza virus and respiratory infection-causing bacteria and fungi. Infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance are a global, and potentially deadly threat. Previously effective antibiotics are becoming less and less effective against multi-resistant bacteria, and there is an urgent need to develop new drugs and treatments to combat infection. The biggest hurdle in developing new medications is getting them from the laboratory into clinical trials, bridging the gap from the discovery of new agents to their development by the pharmaceutical industry into potential medications. iCAIR will be working on the development of anti-infective therapies that take new treatment options all the way from the identification of potentially beneficial substances to the preclinical proof of concept. The alliance will establish a development platform that will cover all the steps of a targeted drug development process, from identifying potential points of attack, right through to drug design and efficacy testing.