School of Medical Sciences

Our vision

The primary vision of the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre (ACSRC) is to improve cancer therapy, not only through new drug development but also through gaining a better understanding of cancer biology.

The ACSRC is at the forefront of drug discovery and development, with eight novel anti-cancer drugs from the research programme being evaluated in clinical trials, both in NZ and internationally. Among these drugs is the anti-leukaemic drug, amsacrine, an important member of the topoisomerase class of anti-cancer drugs, Vadimezan (DMXAA), a drug acting on tumour blood vessels, and PR-104, a drug acting on oxygen starved areas of tumours. ACSRC researchers also synthesised and contributed to the development of canertinib, a drug inhibiting cancer cell signalling pathways. 

Learn more about our Eight anti-cancer drugs

Today, the ACSRC is a large multidisciplinary group of over 80 staff, including: medicinal chemists, molecular and cellular biologists, pharmacologists, and clinicians. Their combined commitment to the centre's vision is demonstrated through the publication of nearly 1,000 scientific papers and the filing of more than 100 patents.

As genomics (the study of genes and their regulation) and proteomics (the study of protein structure and function) begins to dominate drug design, the ACSRC is moving to meet this challenge with novel approaches to drug development. The ACSRC is internationally recognised as a centre of excellence and has established links with many academic and commercial groups worldwide to further advance its vision.

Read more about our Research in drug development

The ACSRC was recently a successful partner in an application to set up the Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery in the University of Auckland. This will bring the ACSRC into closer relationships with existing bioinformatics, genomics and structural biology groups within the University of Auckland, helping to bring these interdisciplinary skills to its drug discovery programme.

Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery

Research initiated in the centre has also become the founding technology for two University of Auckland start-up companies, Proacta Inc. (San Diego and Auckland based) and Pathway Therapeutics Ltd (Melbourne and Auckland based).

Proacta Inc

The ACSRC is one of the few academic centres in the world to achieve real successes in the development of drugs for clinical use. This is accomplished through broad technical expertise, diverse funding sources and a continual focus on drug development.


Read more about our Research groups

Read more about our Funding sources for research