Australian biomedical research efforts boosted by $10.4 million

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03 September 2020

MTPConnect and Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, today announced $10.4 million in funding for 13 early stage biomedical projects, including COVID-19 research.

The funding - which has attracted an additional $28 million in industry contributions - comes from the second and third rounds of the Biomedical Translation Bridge (BTB) program, an initiative of the Medical Research Future Fund operated by MTPConnect. 

MTPConnect Managing Director and CEO, Dr Dan Grant, says round three of BTB specifically targeted COVID-19 projects (medical devices, diagnostics, prophylactic or therapeutic approaches) that will achieve an impact in less than 12-months.

“Five of the 13 projects and $4.1 million respond to the immediate priority of addressing the COVID-19 health emergency, including a vaccine candidate being developed in South Australia, a new treatment for respiratory complications of COVID-19 selected for a global WHO-endorsed clinical study, a preventive nasal spray developed from an approved antiviral, a rapid response test to predict severity of disease progression and a ventilated hood to better care for patients and protect healthcare staff,” Dr Grant said.   

“Another eight selected projects and $6.3 million will help patients of the future benefit from new research into treatments and diagnostics for conditions such as muscular dystrophy, breast cancer, metabolic and fibrotic disease, prostate cancer, ataxia, antimicrobial resistance and the Zika virus.

“In two highly competitive rounds, our independent and expert evaluation committees have selected projects in South Australia, Queensland, Victoria and NSW.

“The $10.4 million we’ve allocated to these 13 projects has leveraged an additional $28 million in contributions from industry which means a total of $38.4 million is flowing into the biomedical sector. 

“Through the BTB program and the MRFF we are backing promising COVID-19 related research and with an emphasis on rapid translation these projects could potentially make a real difference to patients in Australia and overseas soon.  

“Building home-grown translational and commercialisation capacity means boosting our knowledge economy and creating new products, jobs and exports. This is particularly important now as we deal with the health and economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown,” Dr Grant said.

The Biomedical Translation Bridge program provides up to $1 million in matching funding to nurture the translation of new therapies, technologies and medical devices through to the proof of concept stage, operating in partnership with BioCurate (University of Melbourne and Monash University), UniQuest (University of Queensland through its drug discovery initiative QEDDI), the Medical Device Partnering Program (MDPP, led by Flinders University), and the Bridge and BridgeTech programs (Queensland University of Technology); all pre-eminent organisations engaged in the translation and commercialisation of health and medical research.

Further details about the 13 successful projects are listed here.

BTB Round 2 recipients:

Bard1 Life Sciences Limited, VIC (ASX listed), is developing a novel high-throughput SubB2M-based liquid biopsy tests for breast cancer screening and monitoring based on a unique cancer-specific probe.

Cincera Therapeutics Pty Ltd, VIC/SA is developing a new drug treatment for Metabolic and Fibrotic Disease.

Envision Sciences Pty Ltd, SA is developing diagnosis and prognostic detection methods for prostate cancer, using blood and tissue samples.

LBT Innovations Limited, SA (ASX listed), is developing APAS®-AMR: An Automated Plate Assessment System for Anti-Microbial Resistance using Artificial Intelligence.

Pharmaxis Ltd, NSW (ASX listed), is developing compound PXS-4699 with tailored dual action  to treat Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

The University of Adelaide, SA is developing a world-first needle-free Zika virus vaccine.

The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, VIC is developing a device for guiding therapy in ataxia and imbalance.

UniQuest Pty Ltd, QLD, is developing first-in-class drug candidates for the treatment of prostate and other cancers.

BTB COVID-19 Round 3 recipients:

Dimerix Bioscience Pty Ltd, VIC (ASX listed), is developing a new treatment for respiratory complications as a result of COVID-19 in a global clinical study with a potential fast track pathway to clinical practice.

SpeeDx Pty Ltd, NSW is developing the InSignia(TM) Respiratory Virus Host Response test – a rapid-response COVID-19 assay to enhance Australia’s current and future pandemic preparedness.

Starpharma Pty Ltd, VIC (ASX listed), is developing an intranasal spray, utilising an already-marketed, broad-spectrum antiviral dendrimer for COVID-19 and potential use in future pandemics.

University of Melbourne, VIC is developing a novel ventilated hood for patient isolation to provide better patient respiratory treatment and protect hospital staff from COVID-19.

Vaxine Pty Ltd, SA is developing an Australian COVID-19 vaccine, COVAX-19®, which comprises of a recombinant spike protein antigen formulated with Vaxine’s proprietary Advax™ adjuvant.