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Powerful antibody facility a first for southern hemisphere

14 August 2008

A new Monash University facility that produces a key agent central to many types of scientific research and treatment options is officially up and running.

The Monash Antibody Technologies Facility (MATF) is one of the largest and most sophisticated monoclonal antibody facilities in the world, and a first for the Southern Hemisphere. It was officially opened at Monash University's Clayton campus by Federal Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr and the Victorian Minister for Innovation, Gavin Jennings.

Millions of different antibodies are created naturally in the human body to help the immune system identify, neutralise and target infection, viruses and disease.

MATF is able to generate large numbers of specific types of antibodies, creating monoclonal antibodies which are used by scientists to study immune responses to specific diseases and infection.

Monoclonal antibodies are used as:

  • diagnostic agents to detect cancers or infectious diseases;
  • vaccines to boost the body's immune response; and
  • therapeutics, to target cancerous cells and treat diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

The facility will increase the production antibodies from hundreds per year to potentially 5000, helping to solve supply problems which can cause delays in research and treatment.

Deputy Director of MATF Michael Spiegel said the facility would accelerate the speed at which scientists can conduct their research.

"Probably the main bottleneck in biomedical sciences right now is a lack of affinity reagents like antibodies - we wanted to remove that bottleneck and open up new ways for investigators to source their research materials," Director, Alan Sawyer added.

The centre has been funded by Monash University, the Victorian State Government and the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy.

Equipment for the facility has been built in Switzerland by Tecan AG, shipped to Australia and re-built at the Clayton campus of the University.

MATF products will be sold throughout Australia and internationally to the science community and related organisations. The first phase in the business venture will see biomanufacturing and bioresearch company Millipore licensing MATF antibodies.

"Millipore is excited to expand on its long-standing investment and relationships in Victoria and Australia by partnering with the MATF. Access to the state-of-the art facilities of the MATF will keep us at the forefront of innovation and high-value customer solutions in the dynamic area of monoclonal antibodies. We are looking forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship," Director of Strategy and Business Development John Ambroziak said.

The Monash Antibody Technologies Facility (MATF) is part of the School of Biomedical Sciences, the largest of three research nodes in the Monash University Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences.

The school has over 400 researchers, 285 higher degree research students and a research income of $43.5 million.

For more information, please contact Samantha Blair, Media and Communications on: +61 3 9903 4841 or 0439 013 951.

MATF Director Alan Sawyer and Deputy Director Michael Spiegel

MATF Director Alan Sawyer and Deputy Director Michael Spiegel