The Southern Hemisphere's Largest Medical Research Institute
Did you realise that the largest medical research institute in the southern hemisphere is based right here in Brisbane. Over the next five to ten years we predict that some of the most significant breakthroughs in arthritis treatments will come from this facility and the brilliant scientists and clinicians based within.
The Translational Research Institute (TRI) was the brainchild of former President of Arthritis Queensland, the late Professor Bryan Emmerson and Dr John Golledge. The Diamantina Institute (DI) is based at the TRI at the PA Hospital campus. It has been described as an Australia-first initiative of ‘bench to bedside’ medical research.
The team at the DI and TRI work in all stages of the process from the laboratory through to direct clinical trials and patient care. In the next building there is a biopharmaceutical production facility to translate research into new drugs and treatment options for patients.
Arthritis Queensland with the support of its donors has been funding work at the Diamantina Institute for over 20 years. In 1992, we provided the seed funding for the AQ Chair of Rheumatology at the University of Queensland Diamantina Institute, and we have continuously funded the position since then. The Chair, Professor Ranjeny Thomas, leads a team that has now grown to almost 20 members.
We have provided a lot of information recently on breakthroughs made by Prof Ranjeny Thomas in her search for a cure for rheumatoid arthritis. The vaccine for RA is just one of the developments from the DI.
We spoke to Professor Matt Brown the Director of Diamantina Institute and also clinical researcher for ankylosing spondylitis.
Importance of investment in research
Professor Brown spoke to me about the importance of funding arthritis research as a long term investment. He has been funded by health charities since he first started AS research 21 years ago and believes that the breakthroughs we discussed would not be coming to fruition without this support.
“Frankly, if I’d been working for a pharmaceutical company, my research program would have been wound up by now because of the length of time it has taken. What has spun out of that research is the old interleukin 23 pathway therapies. They’re going to be billion dollar drugs that will have a huge impact on the lives of people living with AS, and that wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t actually been doing that basic research.”
The support of each donor who gives to research through arthritis foundations, no matter how big or small is not lost on Professor Brown. Each donation is getting us closer to better treatments and vaccines for the different types of arthritis.
“Thank goodness that there are agencies around like Arthritis Australia, Arthritis Queensland and also Arthritis Research UK who have been prepared to put money into higher risk long term projects. Not all of them will bear fruit but if you don’t have those sorts of projects then you don’t end up with new breakthrough therapies.”
To donate to the Arthritis Queensland research fund or for more information on clinical trials visit the AQ website www.arthritis.org.au.