Biomedical Translation Bridge Program Awards Three Winning Projects

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24 August 2022

Photos by Edoardo Capriotti

After a successful Biomedical Translation Bridge (BTB) Finale event to mark the completion of the MRFF-funded program – including a packed schedule of BTB-funded project showcase presentations, panel sessions and industry speakers – MTPConnect and its venture partners announced the winners of three special awards at the Finale dinner, held at Luna Park in Sydney.

The awards recognised:

  • Most Significant Impact in the Australian Health Sector
  • Most Significant Commercial Outcome, and
  • Most Significant Scientific Outcome.

Curbing the spread of COVID-19 in hospital settings

The McMonty by Medihood is a patient isolation hood developed by a multidisciplinary team at the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Engineering in conjunction with clinicians and research nurses from Western Health. The hood which is attached to hospital beds was awarded Most Significant Impact in the Australian Health Sector award.

BTB funding not only enabled the team to bring the McMonty to market within 12 months, but also facilitated further research towards optimising patient comfort and proving – in collaboration with the Doherty Institute and Western Health – a reduction in the spread of disease-carrying aerosols and viruses.

Now listed as a medical device on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG), with Evans Evans as their commercial partner, the McMonty by Medihood is the first commercially available, unsealed, portable and scalable personal isolation solution capable of limiting the spread of respiratory infection within a hospital ward. It is currently in use in more than 165 hospitals around Australia, including in regional centres, and is also enjoying early adoption overseas.

Nasal spray available in Europe and the UK

Melbourne biotech Starpharma Pty Ltd was awarded Most Significant Commercial Outcome for its anti-viral nasal spray. Viraleze™ was developed within 12 months after repurposing the company’s existing antiviral agent that is approved for use in its range of women’s health and sexual health products.

The Starpharma team created a cost-effective and scalable product that would form a physical barrier between SARS-CoV-2 ‘spike’ proteins and the nasal mucous membrane, trapping and irreversibly inactivating the respiratory virus, helping to reduce the risk of infection.

The spray is now registered for sale in more than 30 countries, including in Europe and the UK, and is available online in certain markets. The company has also signed exclusive sales and distribution agreements for in the Middle East with nine countries including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Kuwait.

Targeting Myc to improve cancer

The Most Significant Scientific Outcome was awarded to Melbourne-based biotech MycRx Pty Ltd, a company developing first-in-class small molecule inhibitors of the Myc oncoprotein as safe and effective treatments for cancer.

The target Myc has been investigated by many companies over time with limited success. MycRx has been able to build a comprehensive dataset demonstrating the compounds’ activity in a panel of orthogonal assays, as well as mechanism-of-action data. The findings are among the most advanced in targeting Myc directly with small molecule drugs, placing the company in a viable position to deliver a first-in-class drug that targets the Myc oncoprotein.

This high-quality data package has already attracted commercialisation, partnering and investment interest from international venture capital firms and transnational pharmaceutical companies, culminating in a successful Series A2 venture capital financing round in late 2021.

A celebration of Australian medical innovation

Senior Program Manager, Biomedical Translation Bridge Program, Dr Amelia Vom, said it was fantastic to see all the BTB-funded projects come together in Sydney at the BTB Finale to showcase their research and commercialisation journeys.

“Bringing together the 21 BTB-funded projects for the Finale in Sydney provided a unique opportunity to share the learnings and progress from the teams developing these ground-breaking new therapies, technologies, and medical devices.

“It was also important to present these awards to recognise the outstanding achievements of the three winning projects. Thanks to our venture partners – Biocurate, UniQuest and Medical Device Partnering Program – for selecting the winners,” said Dr Vom.

Brightest minds in our sector

“It was a wonderful celebration of Australian medical innovation – an acknowledgement of the talent, tenacity and teamwork of the brightest minds in our sector.

“On behalf of MTPConnect, I would like to thank the BTB Steering Committee members for their contribution to the success of the BTB program; Dr Lyn Griffiths for welcoming the BTB Finale event into the BridgeTech Symposium; our Venture Partners – Biocurate, Medical Device Partnering Program, UniQuest, the Bridge and BridgeTech Programs; and our BTB team, past and current: our inaugural program team of Lauren Kelly and Danielle Shand, and my colleague Dr Andionne Parlade who has worked on the BTB program with me. Thank you everyone,” said Dr Vom.

Read about all 21 Biomedical Translation Bridge funded projects in the BTB Impact Report.