7 February 2011

An extended contract agreement with Queensland company EcoBiotics will see University of Queensland scientist Dr Craig Williams continue to support EcoBiotics’ quest to develop new medical therapies from ancient rainforest species.

UQ’s main commercialisation company, UniQuest, facilitated the contract extension through its Consulting and Research division.

EcoBiotics is a Queensland life sciences company specialising in the discovery and development of new chemicals from rainforest plants for use in pharmaceuticals and neutraceuticals for humans and animals.

A recent $10M capital raising initiative has enabled the company’s subsidiary, QBiotics Limited, to fund trials in 2011 of its anticancer lead compound EBC-46. QBiotics is developing EBC-46 for the local treatment of solid tumours in humans and animals. EBC-46 will be the first Australian rainforest-derived drug to enter human clinical trials.

Dr Williams, a researcher and Senior Lecturer in the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, has been involved with EcoBiotics for six years. With his chemistry research team and Professor Peter Parsons at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, he will help examine the chemical composition and structure of plant material supplied by EcoBiotics, and chemically replicate it as required and where possible.

The research also involves a high-field nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy instrument ( 900MHz), a flagship resource at UQ’s Centre for Advanced Imaging (CAI) and the only equipment of its kind in the southern hemisphere.

“Working with EcoBiotics has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my career so far,” said Dr Williams.

“As well as being involved personally with the development of potential new treatments for cancer, I have been able to broaden the scope of my scholarly activities with relevant case studies, collaborate with other researchers, and publish high-impact and industry-collaborative research.”

UniQuest’s Managing Director, David Henderson, said the contract demonstrates the University’s capability to provide world-class and multi-disciplinary research resources to boost industry innovation in Queensland and help Australia contribute to solving global health problems.

“Industry engagement can have a ripple effect, especially when there’s synergy between the client’s needs, the researcher’s expertise, and the University’s support for sharing resources,” Mr Henderson said.

“When UniQuest brings science and industry together in a commercial context it’s more than a service transaction. It’s the catalyst for pushing the boundaries of knowledge and breaking new ground, particularly with projects like this one where various research teams are involved.

“Building relationships to contract level takes a high degree of commitment to industry engagement, which this agreement has had from Professor Ian Brereton, CAI’s Director of Research & Technology and Professor Alastair McEwan, Deputy Dean of UQ’s Faculty of Science. It’s also reflected in the University’s funding commitment in both of these research areas.”

Dr Victoria Gordon, Chair and Chief Executive Officer of EcoBiotics, said the company was pleased to be continuing its relationship with UQ.

“Contracting UQ research facilities has made very good business sense. It has allowed the company to keep overheads down while accessing world-class research facilities and researchers. Dr Craig Williams and his group are valued members of our team and have assisted greatly with the development of our products,” Dr Gordon said.

The contract has been extended for another three years.

Media enquiries: Leanne Wyvill +61 7 3365 4037, 0409 767 199 or l.wyvill@uniquest.com.au

About UniQuest
Established by The University of Queensland in 1984, UniQuest is widely recognised as one of Australia’s largest and most successful university commercialisation groups. With more than 80 staff and group revenues exceeding A$320 million in the past five years, the company is also benchmarked in the top tier of technology transfer worldwide. It has created more than 60 companies, and since 2000 UniQuest and its start-ups have raised more than $340 million to take university technologies to market. UniQuest commercialises innovations developed at The University of Queensland and its commercialisation partner institutions: the University of Wollongong, University of Technology Sydney, James Cook University, University of Tasmania, the Mater Medical Research Institute and two ARC Centres of Excellence. UniQuest also provides access to an expansive and exclusive network of independent academics to tailor a consulting or project R&D solution to meet the diverse needs of industry and government, facilitating some 500 consulting, expert opinion, testing, and contract research services each year. UniQuest is also a leading Australasian provider of international development assistance recognised for excellence in technical leadership, management and research. Working with agencies such as AusAID, NZAID, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank, UniQuest has developed and implemented more than 400 projects in 46 countries throughout the Pacific, South-East Asia, the Indian sub-continent and Africa. For more information about UniQuest, please visit www.uniquest.com.au.

About EcoBiotics
EcoBiotics is an Australian company that specialises in the discovery and development of small molecule drug leads for the human and animal health markets from the tropical rainforests of Australia. Using unique technology, EcoBiotics specifically targets particular plant features and identifies potential plant properties more accurately and quickly than the traditional approach undertaken by most pharmaceutical companies. R&D focuses on oncology, inflammation, infectious diseases and parasite control. Subsidiary companies specialise in the clinical development of EcoBiotics lead compounds.