National roundtable to bring together experts to set future priorities for RNA science and research

The Shine Dome from the air, showing circular shape and nearby landscape of roads, grass and trees
A roundtable in July will bring together experts from the university and research sector, public sector, not-for-profit entities and industry.

World-leading experts will come together for a national roundtable at Australia’s home of science next month to map out Australia’s national priorities for RNA science and research. The one-day invitation-only event at the Shine Dome will be hosted by the Australian Academy of Science, in partnership with the Australian RNA Production Consortium (ARPC).

RNA, or ribonucleic acid, is a molecule that plays a central role in the function of genes. RNA technology is now being used to develop a new class of vaccines, including the mRNA vaccine to protect against COVID-19.

Its success to date has drawn sustained public interest in the technology. It has also triggered significant public and private investment to establish capabilities from research through to clinical and commercial onshore mRNA manufacturing.

Given the efficacy and flexibility of mRNA-based vaccines, Australia is now working towards developing a sovereign capability to deal with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and future pandemics.

It is clear that applications of mRNA as well as other forms of RNA, such as siRNA, miRNA and gRNA, have huge potential in medicine beyond vaccines, and more broadly in the biotechnology and agricultural sectors.

Australia must seize this opportunity to create an innovative RNA research and development ‘ecosystem’ and become a strong global player for this disruptive industry, creating and manufacturing high-value RNA-based products here and exporting them to the world.

Australia must seize this opportunity to create an innovative RNA research and development ‘ecosystem’ and become a strong global player for this disruptive industry, creating and manufacturing high-value RNA-based products here and exporting them to the world.

Australia is well placed in this space with many world-leading experts in RNA science and biomaterials located within our universities and research institutes. As with our past investments in genomics, biologics, stem cells and cell therapies, we need to provide resources and incentives to further promote RNA product discovery, support innovation and creation of new IP. This will also foster establishment of new companies, create new products and provide new job opportunities.

The Academy is hosting a roundtable on Thursday 29 July, from 10 am to 2:30 pm which will bring together experts from the university and research sector, public sector, not-for-profit entities and industry.

The roundtable will:

  • identify Australia’s RNA research strengths
  • define research priorities and provide guidance on how to build a national RNA technologies ecosystem
  • discuss how to build a framework that will create a pipeline of knowledge from discovery to translation, leading to clinical stage and commercial RNA manufacturing in Australia.

Following the conclusion of the roundtable a full report on the outcomes will be made publicly available.

For enquiries or to register your interest in attending the roundtable, email Dr Hayley Teasdale.

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