Monash harnesses new frontier in technology to propel promising local drug discoveries

The Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS) has unveiled a brand new instrument –  the Thermo Scientific™ Orbitrap™ Astral™ Mass Spectrometer (MS) – which will play a key role in enabling the team to efficiently identify promising drug targets for academia and industry. 

The new Orbitrap Astral MS, located at MIPS in Parkville, is the second to be installed in Australia and the first to be stationed within an academic institution. The new instrument provides faster throughput, higher sensitivity, and deeper coverage when studying the proteome to identify proteins previously undetectable, and therefore accelerating scientific discoveries with greater efficiency.

It will form the basis to the recently established Drug Target Identification Platform (DTIP) led by Associate Professor Darren Creek from MIPS and funded through a $3 million grant from the Commonwealth Government’s Medical Research Future Fund. 

There is an urgent unmet need for target identification capabilities to support Australia’s drug discovery pipeline. Many promising biomedical discoveries fail to progress to clinical therapeutics due to poor efficacy, which is often underpinned by a lack of understanding about their mechanism of action.

Associate Professor Creek said, “Our primary objective is to establish a dedicated platform based on state-of-the-art omics technologies to support the Australian drug discovery community and provide an efficient and unbiased avenue to identify drug targets and biomarkers.“The Orbitrap Astral MS will allow us to detect more proteins at a much faster rate and with more accuracy than what was previously possible. In a nutshell, it will enable us to dramatically expand the scale and scope of our experiments and, ultimately, help to provide an efficient avenue to identify drug targets for a broad range of diseases,” said Associate Professor Creek.

Thermo Fisher Scientific’s Vice President and General Manager for Australia and New Zealand, Domenic Stranieri said: “This truly game-changing technology represents a significant step forward in scalability, speed, sensitivity and accuracy, and the team at MIPS are now at the cutting edge of target discovery.

“It’s a truly exciting time for discovery and translational research and we are thrilled to support the team as it embarks on this new frontier,” said Mr Stranieri.

The DTIP project is being led by MIPS in collaboration with Monash’s Faculty of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences, Griffith University, Australian National University, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Centre for Cancer Biology (University of South Australia), BioCurate, Canthera, BioIVT and the Children’s Cancer Institute (University of New South Wales).

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