Molecular medicine symposium draws internationally renowned experts

Leading research on developing gene-targeting therapies to diagnose and treat an array of diseases was shared at a symposium at Murdoch University in Perth last week.

The theme was Functional Nucleic Acids: From Laboratory to Targeted Molecular Therapy.

The symposium attracted world-renowned chemical biologists, molecular geneticists and biochemists, including 17 from overseas. Countries represented included Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Japan, Denmark, India, South Korea and Singapore.

Of notable speakers, Jesper Wengel from the Bimolecular Nanoscale Engineering Center in Denmark gave an interesting talk on ‘Novel building blocks for therapeutic oligonucleotides’. His research has focused on improving the movement of antisense oligonucleotides through the body including increasing the strength of the binding interaction between these building blocks.

Chief organiser, Dr Rakesh Veedu is a McCusker Fellow at the Perron Institute for Neurological and Translational Science and leads a precision nucleic acid therapeutics research team at Murdoch University.

He said the level of national and international participation from such a distinguished group of scientists ensured a valuable sharing of innovative research being undertaken worldwide in the field of oligonucleotide drug development.

“A major focus of this work is to develop and deliver targeted drugs to tackle neuromuscular diseases, solid cancers, metabolic diseases and infectious diseases”.

“Undoubtedly one of the most important achievements ever has been the award-winning molecular research led by the Perron Institute’s Scientific Director Professor Steve Wilton and Director of Research Professor Sue Fletcher, both located at Murdoch University, resulting in the drug Exondys 51 being approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy,” Dr Veedu said.

An update on their ground-breaking work and other applications was included in the program for the symposium.