CSL makes the case for innovation in Australian biotech

By Allen Jack

It has been reported that biotech leader CSL shares on the ASX have broken the AUS$300 mark, solidifying its position as one of premier companies in its sector.

The company, originally formed in 1916 as ‘Commonwealth Serum Laboratories’, now has a presence in over 60 countries and provides employment to over 25,000 people. CSL posted revenues of US$8.5bn in 2019 and currently creates a variety of products, including vaccines, antivenoms and blood plasma derivatives. 

Once a leader, always a leader

The success of the company is certainly not a new development; CSL have been involved at the forefront of biotech research for the best part of the last century. Early utilisation of insulin for diabetics in 1923, rapid adoption of the polio vaccine in 1956, and industry pioneering treatment of the HIV virus in 1983 using heat are all part of its legacy. 

Maintaining this intelligent recognition of important developments in healthcare, CSL stated that it is investing US$832mn into company R&D - a significant investment of funds, representing almost 10% of its gross revenue. 


However, the company is determined to maintain the innovative edge that has set them apart from competitors for decades. 

Ideas currently in the pipeline include “a novel treatment for asthma”. The potential therapy - called CSL311 - is described by CSL as “a monoclonal antibody that targets multiple inflammatory agents involved in various diseases.” 

Professor Jo Douglass, Head of the Immunology and Allergy Department at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, says that the outcome of CSL’s work is highly anticipated. “Currently, our treatment options for severe asthma are limited. We are excited by the potential of CSL311 to address a problem that affects the lives of so many.”

Showing satisfaction for the company’s ongoing level of success, Dr. William Mezzanotte, Head of R&D, believes that CSL will continue to be trendsetters for the sector. “Our R&D portfolio holds the potential to unlock a broad range of new therapies for people with challenging medical conditions. That promise is what drives our 1,700-plus scientists to work every day as if someone’s life depends on it – because it really does.”

For more information on business topics in ANZ, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief ANZ.

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