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Posted: May 18, 2009

New Queensland nanotechnology center to develop early disease diagnosis

(Nanowerk News) Queenslanders have reason to hope for earlier and thus better treatment of diseases such as cancer, with a new centre for disease research established at the University of Queensland.
Announced in Seattle at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre by Trade Minister Stephen Robertson, the Centre for Biomarker Research and Development will be formed at the University of Queensland’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN).
Mr Robertson said the centre will focus on the early diagnosis and tailored treatment of diseases like cancer, and will unite AIBN’s innovative nanotechnology researchers with leaders in the fields of medicine and molecular biology.
Biomarkers are molecules specifically associated with particular diseases that when present in the body, may indicate the onset and status of the disease. It’s anticipated biomarkers will be used to identify and treat diseases far earlier.
“Such early diagnosis leads to faster, far better treatment and therefore improved health for Queenslanders,” Mr Robertson said.
“The new centre will focus on discovery, validation and utilization of molecular based biomarkers in medicine.
“This centre will help the Bligh Government deliver on it’s Toward Q2 goal of making Queenslanders Australia’s healthiest people.
“If we can catch diseases such as cancer earlier, treatments are far more successful,” Mr Robertson said.
“The establishment of this centre is a strong endorsement of the success of the Memorandum of Understanding between Queensland and Washington State which has been extended a further four years.
“It also re-affirms our commitment to the AIBN. The Queensland government invested $20 million into its construction and this has certainly proven to be a worthwhile investment, as the AIBN is now considered a world leader in the fields of bioengineering and nanotechnology.”
AIBN Director Professor Peter Gray said the Centre for Biomarker Research and Development will capitalise on momentum generated by the research and commercialisation activities of the AIBN’s Professor Matt Trau.
“Over the last 18 months, Professor Traut has attracted over $12 million in competitive research grants involving many aspects of biomarker research and development,” Mr Gray said.
“He is the lead investigator on a $4 million Queensland government grant in which he collaborates with teams from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre, the University of Washington and the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute, as well as a $5 million grant from the National Breast Cancer Foundation ( NBCF ), which is the largest grant awarded by the NBCF to date.
“On the strength of his accomplishments in this area, Professor Matt Trau is a natural choice to lead the Centre for Biomarker Research and Development,” he said.
Professor Trau said biomarkers have great potential in disease management.
“It is anticipated that doctors will use biomarkers to monitor and treat diseases, such as cancer, at their earliest stages when they are more manageable and outcomes significantly more favourable,” Professor Trau said.
“Early diagnosis and treatment could lead to a cure at a fraction of the cost of current treatments for late stage disease.
“The goals of the Centre involve world class, multidisciplinary research in the areas of technology development, biomarker discovery and clinical development and application.”
Source: University of Queensland
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