Australian pharmaceutical company Phebra and the University of Wollongong (UOW) have entered a new six-year partnership focused on innovative arsenic compounds in cancer treatment.

This renewed collaboration aims to advance research and development on patented arsenic compounds for treating acute myeloid leukemia and pancreatic cancer.

UOW’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President for Research and Sustainable Futures Professor David Currow says this development should come as a benefit to both institutions.

“The ability to develop and manufacture new medicines in Australia helps directly to address pressing clinical needs while building our knowledge economy,” said Professor Currow.

Phebra’s CEO, Andre Volk, expressed enthusiasm for the extension of their collaboration and moving towards human trials, emphasising their dedication to local production and commercialisation of Australian research products.

The development of PHENASEN®, an injectable arsenic trioxide solution by Phebra, has effectively treated haematological cancers, exported globally. A bioequivalence trial for an oral PHENASEN® formulation was successfully conducted in Australia.

“The scientific basis of this work was recently accepted for publication in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry,” said Associate Professor Carolyn Dillon.

Dr. Mal Eutick, Phebra’s R&D director, highlighted the potential of their research, including the application of targeted compounds for other cancers, such as mesothelioma.

A framework for Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) production ensures a compliant material supply.Associate Professor Dillon and Dr. Judith Carrall expressed their delight at continuing the collaboration, enabling students to gain insight into drug development.

This collaboration reflects the power of bridging academia and industry, fostering a dynamic exchange of knowledge, ideas, and resources, fuelling real-world impact and propelling medicine forward in important ways.