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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Premier and Minister for the Arts
    The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk

    Queensland to help tackle one of the world’s most dangerous diseases (AUDIO AVAILABLE)

    Premier and Minister for the Arts
    The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk

    Sunday, June 14, 2015

    Queensland to help tackle one of the world’s most dangerous diseases (AUDIO AVAILABLE)

    WASHINGTON, USA: Queensland scientists working on an anti-Hendra virus treatment are in discussions with top American researchers about developing an antibody against the growing global threat of emerging diseases.

    One such disease is Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which has recently struck South Korea and has already caused seven deaths, seen over 2500 people quarantined, and 1800 schools to be shut.

    In Washington DC today, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk met with renowned researcher Dr Dimiter S. Dimitrov from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) who, along with Professor Chris Broder, were co-developers of the anti-Hendra monoclonal antibody.

    “Following the successful world-class research and development they did on the Hendra monoclonal antibody, Queensland researchers are set to focus on other emerging diseases, potentially including MERS," Ms Palaszczuk said.

    “The University of Queensland’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN), under director Professor Peter Gray, has been asked to lead the project.

    “MERS and other emerging diseases pose a serious global threat, which is why a collaborative effort from some of the world's best researchers is urgently needed."

    Professor Gray and his team worked with US colleagues in the development of the world-first anti-Hendra monoclonal antibody, which was approved for human trials in April this year. The trials are running in Brisbane with Dr Geoffrey Playford as the lead investigator.

    “We would be delighted for this work to come to Queensland, further enhancing our reputation of becoming a centre of biotechnology excellence,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

    Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said she hoped many of the same groups that contributed to the success of the Hendra project would be involved.

    “The Hendra trial was an excellent example of what good health research collaboration can achieve,” Dr Young said.

    “While we have had no on-shore cases of MERS in Australia, it is a serious and infectious disease.

    “Australia’s proximity to the region means we need to be prepared, and Queensland is prepared to take a leading role in doing that.”

    Director of AIBN Professor Peter Gray said he and his team looked forward to the challenge of developing the antibody and shepherding it through the many stages leading to human trials, and eventual compassionate use.

    “I think it’s fantastic that we’re involved in getting on the front foot against these serious diseases,” Professor Gray said.

    Media contact: premiers.media@ministerial.qld.gov.au

    AUDIO AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD HERE