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Despite extensive work by industry and researchers, a significant number of highly important cancer targets remain untreatable by drugs. A key hurdle in the development of new therapies is the identification of promising new molecular starting points.

Melbourne based biotech start-up, MecRx had an idea for a technological solution to this challenge, yet, as a start-up company, they lacked the resources and funding to get their idea off the ground.

Dr Rohan Volpe working in his CSIRO lab


MecRx's track record with innovating technology made them an excellent candidate for a STEM+ Business project that would connect them with a researcher to help fast track their ideas to commercialisation.

Through the SME Connect facilitated program, MecRx was matched with CSIRO researcher Dr Rohan Volpe. Having recently completed his PhD in synthetic organic chemistry, Dr Volpe had experience in a range of reaction types and in the synthesis of structurally complex molecules. His studies within the Medicinal Chemistry theme of Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences meant Dr Volpe also had a good knowledge base with regards to drug discovery.

Dr Volpe's interest and skills made him a good match for the project and provided the expertise needed to develop and test a new technology platform for identifying promising starting points for new anti-cancer drugs.


Thanks to STEM+ Business, commercialisation of the world’s first KRas drug is one step closer.

STEM+ Business provided MecRx with the boost needed to realise the huge potential offered by their technology platform for new drug discovery. The team identified a potential anti-cancer drug lead for inhibiting the biological target KRas, a protein which causes cancerous cells from a wide range of organs and tissues to divide uncontrollably.

For Dr Volpe, the benefits of working on the project included a large deal of independence and the resources required to pursue his ideas. During his time with MecRx Dr Volpe has seen how quickly an industrial medicinal chemistry project can progress, and he has had some exposure to the biological testing and other types of experiments required to satisfy investors.

"MecRx is a shining example of how the research and commercial sector can work together to accelerate Australian innovation and make a significant commercial impact."

Dr Chris Smith, MecRx board director

"Through working with MecRx I have had the opportunity to undertake important and well-resourced research in medicinal chemistry, in addition to gaining exposure to the planning required to obtain biological results to satisfy investors."

— Rohan Volpe, Researcher, CSIRO

This program is supported by the Science and Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF).

For further information and to apply, please get in touch with our dedicated STEM+ Business Manager.

Find out more and apply

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