The Morrison Government continues to help Australian researchers take medical advances to the next level, investing over $25.8 million to support innovative projects aiming to improve diagnostic and treatment services.
Our Government is providing more than $12.1 million from the Biomedical Translation Fund (BTF) for 2 projects to improve treatment for diabetic complications, and the surgical removal of cancer tumours.
The $500 million BTF is assisting Australian businesses to develop breakthroughs in drugs, devices and therapies to improve the health of Australians.
Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said almost $8 million will be provided to OccuRx towards its work developing novel medicines for the treatment of diabetic complications, including diabetic kidney disease and diabetic eye disease.
“Diabetic kidney disease is the chronic loss of kidney function that occurs with diabetes and is the main cause of end-stage renal disease globally,” Minister Hunt said.
“Diabetic eye disease, called diabetic retinopathy, which is a leading cause of blindness, affects almost all individuals with type 1 diabetes and more than 60% of those with type 2 diabetes within 20 years of living with diabetes.”
“Treatment with OccuRx’ novel compounds has generated positive results in animal models of these two key complications of diabetes. This funding will support the company in completing preparations and initiating a Phase 2 clinical program in patients with diabetic complications.”
More than $4.1 million will also be provided to OncoRes for its work developing an imaging tool to translate a surgeon’s sense of touch into a microscale image.
“This project will help surgeons accurately identify and remove cancerous tumours, minimising risk of missing cancerous tissue which can lead to follow-up surgeries,”
Minister Hunt said.
“OncoRes’ imaging device is taking the sense of touch and turning it into an image, which will improve surgical accuracy and reduce complication rates.”
The investment of $12.1 million in these projects builds on 25 other funding investments from the BTF totalling $287.8 million.
In addition to support for diabetes treatment, $8.9 million is being invested into 24 researchers through the Researcher Exchange and Development within Industry (REDI) program.
The REDI program provides companies in the medical technology, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals (MTP) sector with funding to bring researchers, clinicians and MTP professionals in-house to work on priority medical research projects, address skill gaps and develop the innovation and commercialisation skills of Australia’s clinicians and healthcare professionals.
These researchers will help to drive the next phases of medical technological innovation, including improving the performance of implantable microphones for cochlear implants using machine learning algorithms, nanotechnology based histopathology for the accurate diagnosis of early-stage breast cancer and a rapid AI-driven pathology blood test predicting SARS-COV-2 disease severity and immune dysfunction
A further $4.8 million to is also being provided to explore improvements into the diagnosis and treatment of artery blockages and endometriosis.
Funded through the 2020 Applied Research in Health Grant Opportunity, Professor Jason Abbott from the University of New South Wales will receive $1.93 million to undertake studies into the imaging accuracy and medical vs surgical treatments for endometriosis, as well as establish a national biobank of endometriosis for future research capacity.
It is hoped that this study will enable optimised diagnosis and treatment pathways for clinicians and improve quality of life for women with this condition.
Professor Jonathan Golledge of James Cook University will also receive $2.86 million to undertake trials into a remotely supervised exercise program to improve function and quality of life of people with leg artery blockage, with the goal of reducing leg pain and walking impairment, lowering the risk of the need for amputation and death.
Investments such as these are driving medical advances and supporting businesses to take their technology to the next level which will improve and ultimately save lives.
Through the MRFF, BTF and National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), the Morrison Government continues to invest in the next generation of medical science.
This is a stark contrast to Mr Albanese and Labor, who when last in Government stopped listing essential medicines and treatments on the PBS, slashed funding for mental health support and tried to rip funding out of medical research.
Researcher Exchange and Development within Industry (REDI) Fellows
|Project Title||Project Summary||Recipient||Institution||Industry Sponsor|
|Nanotechnology based histopathology for the accurate diagnosis of early-stage breast cancer||Professor Abbey will determine the regulatory pathway and perform essential market validation necessary to bring a new nanotechnology tool to market for cancer diagnosis to enable better outcomes for cancer patients.||Prof Brian Abbey||La Trobe University||Leica Biosystems|
|Development of A.I. powered algorithms to enable Coranry Artery Disease risk identification and stratification||Dr Obeidy will use A.I. powered algorithms to identify Biomarkers for early coronary artery disease risk identification and stratification.||Dr Peyman Obeidy||The University of Sydney||Siemens Healthineers Pty Ltd|
|Implementing user-driven design methods within a medical device regulatory landscape||A/Prof Renda will operate within an ISO 13485 certified Quality Management System and develop (with Eudaemon Technologies) a User Centred Design & Medical Device Development pathway to help facilitate design-driven translational outcomes from fundamental research.||A/Prof Gianni Renda||Swinburne University of Technology||IDE Group|
|Maximising the performance of implantable microphones for cochlear implants using machine learning algorithms||Dr Gao will join Cochlear’s R&D team to develop skills in translating research to early-stage product development and will develop an AI approach for improving the performance of implantable microphones.||Dr Demi Gao||The University of Melbourne||Cochlear Limited|
|Developing investment cases and spinning-out therapeutic opportunities from research institutions||A/Prof Lee will be embedded in a team of investment managers, assessing opportunities from across top research institutions in Australia, and collaborate in creating and supporting a portfolio of spin-out companies.||A/Prof Jason Lee||QIMR Berghofer||IP Group Australia|
|New treatment strategies for Mycoplasma genitalium: an emerging antimicrobial resistant superbug and sexually-transmitted infection||Dr Sweeney will develop and clinically validate a commercial resistance test to improve the treatment of M. genitalium infection – antimicrobial resistant superbug.||Dr Emma Sweeney||The University of Queensland||SpeeDx Pty Ltd|
|Accelerating Vaccine Patch Technology to boost Pandemic readiness||Dr Hacker will gain skills in quality management and medical device manufacturing to support future vaccination delivery, including for pandemic response. Dr Hacker will conduct clinical trials testing a suite of training resources educating healthcare workers on how to use the HD-MAP device.||Dr Elke Hacker||Griffith University||Vaxxas Pty Ltd|
|Antimalarial medicines: translating advanced research into clinical development||Dr Favuzza will develop skills in R&D project management and the conduct of GLP and GCP compliant non-clinical and clinical studies. Dr Favuzza will progress antimalarial candidates through the R&D pipeline from lead optimisation through to early phase clinical trials.||Dr Paola Favuzza||The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research||Medicines for Malaria Venture|
|Translating CT ventilation imaging to improve lung health worldwide||Dr Byrne will focus on resolving clear clinical needs spanning conditions such as COPD, lung cancer, cystic fibrosis and long-COVID, and by expediting regulatory approvals and commissioning of prototype scanning platforms enabling better treatments for patients.||Dr Hilary Byrne||The University of Sydney||4DMedical|
|Development of Mobile Pulmonary Rehabilitation (m-PR) on Perx and improving the rehabilitation capabilities of the Perx platform||A/Prof McKeough will build a commercially-ready mobile pulmonary rehabilitation program integrated with the Perx digital health platform.||A/Prof Zoe McKeough||University of Sydney||Perx Health|
|FAPi-MRI towards better target delineation of high grade gliomas||Dr Dmochowska will complete streamlined preclinical validation of fibroblast activation protein-targeting nanoparticles for the delineation of brain tumours, in preparation for Phase 1 “first in human” clinical trials.||Dr Nicole Dmochowska||University of South Australia||Ferronova|
|Sourcing, Evaluating and Licensing of External Innovation||Dr Thompson will identify, evaluate and support investment decision making of early stage, external research opportunities and be part of CSL’s Global Licensing team supporting the licencing of new product opportunities and technologies.||Dr Darcelle Thompson||La Trobe University||CSL Limited|
|Developing a digital therapeutic to Engage Marginalised Populations in Accessible community-based Testing and Treatment of Hepatitis C Virus (EMPATH-C).||A/Prof Le will produce a world first digital therapeutic, to increase engagement testing and treatment for Australians living with Hepatitis C Virus who are not currently engaged in conventional models of healthcare.||A/Prof Suong Le||Monash Health||Planet Innovation|
|Companion diagnostics development for microbiome therapeutics||A/Prof Hill will work on identifying gut microbial biomarkers for metastatic melanoma to inform the development of therapeutic candidates to be used in conjunction with Immune Checkpoint Inhibitor (ICI) therapies, and companion diagnostic biomarkers.||A/Prof Michelle Hill||QIMR Berghofer||Microba Life Sciences Limited|
|Inhibition of pro-inflammatory extracellular enzymes responsible for extracellular matrix degradation in tissue injury and immune disease.||Dr Haghi will work on a drug discovery project for a small molecule inhibitor for a topical anti-inflammatory drug for skin inflammation.||Dr Mehra Haghi||University of Technology Sydney||Pharmaxis Ltd|
|Developing novel therapeutic approaches to improve outcomes for stem cell transplant patients||A/Prof Gartlan will work with CSL to develop novel treatments to improve outcomes for blood cancer patients after stem cell transplantation. A/Prof Gartlan will learn the key aspects of strategy development and industry-based approaches to enhance translatability of academic research into solutions for patients, whilst identifying opportunities within highly competitive landscapes.||A/Prof Kate Gartlan||QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute||CSL Ltd|
|COVex Test: Rapid AI-driven pathology blood test predicting SARS-COV-2 disease severity and immune dysfunction||Professor Rao will develop a clinic-ready AI-driven blood test for severe COVID-19 to predict individual risk of developing severe disease in the community setting or when hospitalised.||Prof Sudha Rao||QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute||Max Kelsen|
|Transforming hearing health care by enhancing candidate identification and referral for cochlear implants; Development of a digital health intervention.||Dr Sucher will develop curated counselling materials for a digital decision-aid tool for mainstream audiology clinics to improve the quality of cochlear implant discussion and follow ups.||Dr Cathy Sucher||Ear Science Institute Australia Incorporated||Cochelar Ltd|
Researcher Exchange and Development within Industry (REDI) Contestable Program
|Project Title||Project Summary||Recipient||Funding Amount ($)|
|The Clinical Trials Coordinator (CTC) Internship Program
|This program offers an immersive, flexible, competency-based training model that will support 15 interns over a 10-month timeframe, and will include host organisations from across metropolitan and regional Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia.||PRAXIS Australia||600,000|
|National Big Data Analytics and AI training program for Australian Healthcare Leaders, Clinicians, Nurses, Researchers and Scientists||This training program will expand the big data analysis and AI awareness and skills of healthcare leaders, clinicians, nurses and researchers through engaging and interactive training programs that culminate in and a medical datathon.||InteliiHQ||400,000|
|ARCS GROW Program||This program addresses the well documented shortage of Clinical Research Associates (CRAs) in the clinical research sector and involves a CRA “traineeship” program a CRA Supervisor Train-the-trainer program and a competency framework for CRAs.||ARCS Australia||700,000|
|GMP Uplift Programs||These programs will provide participants a real-world perspective on Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), designed to enable the interpretation and application of GMP in practice. The Programs range is for new entrants up to senior experienced professionals and feature leading subject matter experts who will share real-world experiences and will be delivered nationally.||Centre for Bipharmaceutical Excellence||1,100,000|
|The Commercialisation Framework Supporting Biomedical Outcomes||Wrays will create a comprehensive skills-based competency framework across the different stages of the MTP value chain, built on deep experience and expertise across all aspects of the process, to provide a resource for early-stage companies and SMEs to develop, access and/or manage the range of skill sets, whilst recognising the differences in development pathways required for:
• Therapeutics (which can encompass small molecules, biologics, other); and
• Medical technologies (including devices, software and diagnostics)
Researcher Exchange and Development within Industry (REDI) Clinical Entrepreneur Program
|Project Title||Project Summary||Recipient||Funding Amount ($)|
|Clinical Entrepreneur Program (CEP)||The Australian CEP pilot will help equip healthcare professionals with the skills to translate and commercialise their ideas and innovation into impactful solutions; drive the development of solutions that will be used by patients and healthcare providers both in Australia and around the world to address key challenges; effect cultural change within the healthcare system by encouraging entrepreneurialism; and retain talented clinical staff who might otherwise leave to pursue entrepreneurial ambitions. The REDI CEP pilot will be delivered by the University of Melbourne and the University of Western Australia partnership, across three states: Victoria, Western Australia and New South Wales. The consortium involves more than 20 associates, of which five are major hospitals and a broad selection of industry.||The University of Melbourne and the University of Western Australia Partnership||2,600,000|
MRFF 2020 Clinician Researchers Initiative: 2020 Applied Research in Health Grant Opportunity
|Applicant name||Institution||Project Title||Project Description||Grant Value ($)|
|Professor Jonathan Golledge||James Cook University||The TEle-Artery triaL (TEAL)||1 million Australians have blockage of their lower limb arteries, which causes leg pain and walking impairment that reduces quality of life and increases the risk of amputation and death. Based on a systematic review of past evidence, in collaboration with patients and other key stakeholders we have designed a remotely-supervised exercise program to improve function and quality of life of people with leg artery blockage. This controlled, randomised clinical trial will examine the eﬃcacy of this novel program. Positive ﬁndings from this trial will be followed by wide dissemination of the program. This will benefit James Cook University through recognition for performing internationally leading health research of global significance.||$2,862,084|
|Professor Jason Abbott||University Of New South Wales||The Australian Endometriosis Clinicians Collaborative (AECC).||Endometriosis affects 1 in 9 Australian women, has a diagnostic delay of 7 years and costs the economy $9.7 billion annually. The AECC is a prospective longitudinal clinical study that will:
1. compare imaging accuracy of endometriosis in general vs specialised settings; compare medical vs surgical treatment of endometriosis with regards to impact on pain, general health symptoms and quality of life using validated questionnaires
2. determine cost-effectiveness of both diagnostic imaging and treatment options
3. establish a national biobank of endometriosis for future research capacity.
Outcomes will determine optimised diagnosis and treatment pathways for clinicians and that improve quality of life for women with endometriosis.
|Total Commitment Expenditure for these grants||$4,800,034|