Delivered by MTPConnect, the Australian Government's BioMedTech Horizons program is an initiative to support innovative collaborative health technologies, drive discoveries towards proof-of-concept and commercialisation that address key health challenges as well as maximise entrepreneurship and idea potential.
Investments from the program will be focused on supporting cutting-edge ideas in precision medicine and 3D anatomical printing that can play a key role in significantly transforming the national healthcare system and promote Australia's international ranking as a leader in biotechnology and medical technology.
On Tuesday 17 April 2018, MTPConnect, the Medical Technology Association of Australia, and Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, announced the first 11 recipients to share in $10 million investment from the $35 million BioMedTech Horizons program - view the recipients below.
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BioMedTech Horizons Program Snapshot
|CAR-T immunotherapies for solid cancers||Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy is an individually customised approach to cancer treatment that genetically engineers a patient’s own immune cells to react to a specific molecular marker on their cancer. CAR-T therapy has shown extraordinary efficacy against blood cancers, however solid cancers have been less responsive to CAR-T therapy to date. Carina Biotech has produced CAR-T cells targeted to a solid cancer molecular marker, which has been published as present in many solid cancers, while having no expression on healthy cells. BioMedTech Horizons investment will allow Carina to work to achieve in-vivo proof of concept for its CAR-T cells across multiple animal models of human solid cancer.||Carina Biotech Pty Ltd |
Seattle Children's Research Institute, The University of Adelaide, Women's and Children's Hospital Adelaide & CRM@CRC
|Rapid diagnostic for the pathogens that cause sepsis||Biotech Resources (BTR) is working to develop the world’s first rapid diagnostic test ‘Aimalux’ for the direct detection of the bacteria and fungi that cause sepsis from whole blood. The technology and platform has been developed by the Monash University Centre for Biospectroscopy in Melbourne, Australia. Sepsis is a life-threatening disease that results in the deaths of over 6 million people every year around the world, and more than 5,000 Australians. It is time critical medical emergency. Every hour without treatment increases a patient's chance of dying by 7.6%. And yet there is no definitive test for sepsis with more than 30% of cases going misdiagnosed. If the symptoms of Sepsis are missed and treatment is not administered, then this can result in patient death. This also means that many patients are treated unnecessarily as a precaution, which has its own detrimental consequences as well as adding to the rise of antibiotic resistance super bugs. Aimalux aims to provide a diagnostic result within 35 minutes, to revolutionise the way sepsis is currently diagnosed, reduce healthcare costs, and save lives.||Biotech Resources (AUST) Pty Ltd Monash University Centre for Biospectroscopy, The Alfred Hospital, Monash Health & Hydrix|
|EarGenie: Personalised management of hearing impairment for infants||EarGenie is an innovative system for personalised management of hearing impairment aiming to enable life-long benefits, using a novel combination of electrophysiology and functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to perform a diagnostic hearing evaluation. Deaf infants face delayed and inadequate language development, affecting education, social participation, and even employment later in life. Major contributing factors are the delay between diagnosis and the selection and accurate adjustment of hearing devices, delayed individualised optimisation of device features, and difficulty choosing a specific therapy to optimise language development. EarGenie is set to transform the precision of diagnosis and optimisation of hearing instrument function, to deliver major benefit to language development in deaf children. This project will allow for the development of a clinical prototype as well as plans for regulatory approval and clinical trials.||Bionics Institute Hydrix, Taralye Early Intervention Centre, Plunkett Consulting Group & Australian Hearing|
|Gennaris Neural Systems (GNS)||Monash Vision Group (MVG) has developed a wireless Brain-Machine Interface (BMI). Brain-Machine Interfaces offer the potential to bypass damage to nerves and neural pathways, restoring function to affected areas of the brain. MVG’s Brain-Machine Interface has been implemented in a cortical vision prosthesis that is designed to bypass damage to the visual pathway and restore basic vision.This project will provide funding to assist the transition between preclinical and clinical programs, allowing the utility of the visual prosthesis to be demonstrated. A company will be established to manufacture MVG’s Brain-Machine Interface and commercialise the visual prosthesis. The aim of this company is to bring the product to market by 2021 to address the unmet need of a treatment for complete blindness. There are an estimated 50,600 legally blind individuals in Australia. For those suffering from complete blindness, the treatments options are limited. Trials of retinal prosthetic implants have demonstrated that some useful vision be restored, but these are appropriate for less than 1% of the legally blind population. MVG’s cortical vision prosthesis has been designed to treat a range of blindness causes, such as glaucoma and optic nerve damage, which are not suitable for retinal implants. The successful commercialisation of this technology will establish Australia as an exporter of implantable medical devices, and global market leader in BMI manufacturing. Beyond vision, the company’s long-term goal is to develop MVG’s brain machine interface to treat damage to other neural pathways, allowing potential therapies for paralysis, sensory loss, and control of prosthetic limbs.||Monash Vision Group |
Alfred Health & MiniFAB
|BioPen||The BioPen is set to provide the first in-situ bioprinting treatment for cartilage injuries, developed at the St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne biofabrication facility, BioFab3D@ACMD. Cartilage injuries occur in two thirds of all joint trauma, with many leading to osteoarthritis that cannot be adequately prevented or treated using current complex surgery interventions. The BioPen project is working to accurately repair the joint injury, by rapidly isolating stem cells from a patient, loading these into a gel scaffold then printing new cartilage using a hand held device directly into the defect. The combination of stem cell technology, engineering and surgical innovation promises to simplify surgery through a one-off surgical procedure with the capacity to bank cells for future use if repeat surgery is required. The BioMedTechHorizons funding will enable this project to advance a prototype device, methodologies and bio-ink formulations towards a commercialisable therapy.||St Vincent's Hospital Melbourne University of Wollongong & Swinburne University of Technology|
|3D Printing and the Manufacture of 'PoreStar' - a novel Porous Polythylene Implant Material||In 2014, Anatomics, in conjunction with CSIRO and Australian universities, developed a breakthrough porous high-density polyethylene implant material, PoreStar. PoreStar’s material advantages include its superior tensile and flexural strength avoiding cracks when bent, the ability to use fixation screws very close to the implant margins without material breakage, and a unique scaffold architecture that facilitates tissue ingrowth. This project aims to advance the state-of-the-art in pHDPE craniomaxillofacial (CMF) implant manufacturing, leveraging 3D printing to reduce process complexity, product turnaround time and cost of goods. Moreover, the project seeks to improve surgical practice by extending the use of temporary implants to patient-specific CMF surgeries, and develop improved software solutions for surgical planning and preoperative estimation of cosmesis, aiming to reduce complications and reoperation rates for CMF surgeries.||Anatomics Pty Ltd|
|Development of a 3D printed graft for surgical repair of the Scapholunate Interosseous wrist ligament (SLIL)||A novel strategy with a personalised bone-ligament-bone graft using 3D-printed biocompatible scaffolds is set to create positive results for sufferers of Scapholunate Interosseous Ligament (SLIL) injury, the most common of wrist ligament injuries. SLIL injuries cause dislocation of scaphoid and lunate bones and can be career-ending for an athlete and result in long-term disability for others. Typically, SLIL injuries are surgically treated, but have poor prognosis, with patients developing functional limitations and severe hand/wrist osteoarthritis, which impairs long-term health and imposes substantial economic burden. This project will support pre-clinical research and development to enable Orthocell to start human clinical trials, seek regulatory approval and commercialise.||Griffith University Orthocell, University of Western Australia & Queensland University of Technology|
|Microwearables: Leaping towards precision medicine||Microwearables (simple, wearable devices) have the opportunity to be a cornerstone of precision medicine by offering personalised diagnostics across a range of diseases. These devices are minimally-invasive, pain-free sensors applied to the skin to access key biomarkers and biosignals – for both episodic and continuous monitoring. In doing so, Microwearables aim to leapfrog traditional diagnostics: based on lab-based assays of blood samples and histopathology – with the costs, risks and time-delays. WearOptimo will be developed as a fit-for-purpose enterprise to rapidly compete at scale – meeting the unique opportunity at the nexus of three growing markets: IoT for medicine; personalised medicine; and wearable devices for healthcare. Led by Professor Mark Kendall and in partnership with the Australian National University (ANU), this project will take the next critical step in working to advance Microwearables into an enterprise – that is commercial, with technical proof-of-concept, and is investor ready.||WearOptimo Pty Ltd|
The Australian National University, Queensland Government, Johnson & Johnson Innovation & Australian National Fabrication Facility
|A clinically-accredited and commercial-ready genome profiling platform to enable precision cancer medicine||Precision cancer medicine is set to transform the clinical trial industry, with international trials attracting heavy investment. This next generation of clinical trials requires fast, comprehensive and cost-effective genomic profiling of patient tumours. The FDA recently approved two US cancer genomic tests, however, their cost (AU$5,500) is prohibitive for routine use in Australia and their matching to US-approved drugs and trials are of limited utility to Australians. Offshore testing also fails to develop necessary domestic infrastructure for precision cancer clinical trials. The genome-profiling platform for precision cancer medicine is set to include a clinically-accredited tumour profiling test and a cancer genomics data platform that incorporates a national patient matching system for precision cancer clinical trial access. It aims to provide competitively priced and rapid local testing. These solutions work to ensure that, in the face of increasing global capabilities and investment in precision cancer clinical trials, Australia will remain an attractive trial site and leader in precision medicine.||Garvan Institute of Medical Research Genome.One & Illumina|
|B3D Cervical Interbody Fusion Device||The Allegra Orthopaedics fully synthetic spinal cage works to regenerate bone under spinal load conditions and be completely resorbed by the body, leaving it and the intervertebral space free of foreign materials – making it a one-of-a-kind innovation. The device is 3D-printed from a synthetic bone bioceramic (Sr-HT-Gahnite) invented at The University of Sydney. The synthetic bone possesses the mechanical strength required for load-bearing conditions, bioactivity needed for outstanding bone regeneration, and resorbability that reduces the risk of rejection and infection – all in a customisable structure. No bone graft is required as the device material induces bone graft. This project will provide the necessary funding for device production for preclinical testing.||Allegra Orthopaedics Ltd |
University of Sydney, University of Wollongong & Boron Molecular Sabre Medical
|Towards bedside gene therapies: Development of a microfluidic gene delivery device for immune cell modificiation and optimisation for clinical use||Wealthy terminally ill patients can now access pioneering cures to their conditions, including many forms of cancer, thanks to a new generation of treatments called gene-modified cell therapies (GMCTs). Kymriah and Yescarta were the first to be approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last year and there are many hundreds more in development. Indee Labs plans to make GMCTs accessible to the masses by solving the manufacturing issues responsible for their high price tags. It will also reduce the lead times for a treatment from months to weeks saving the lives of patients with aggressive conditions. Gene delivery to cells is the most critical and problematic step in manufacturing GMCTs. Our project will develop the only practical gene delivery technology, microfluidic vortex shedding (µVS), into a product that will be trialled by pharmaceutical companies. VS will offer revolutionary improvements over existing gene delivery methods including high yield, negligible immune cell perturbation along with rapid processing of research-, clinical- and commercial-scale samples with a simple workflow and a small footprint.||Indee Pty Ltd University of South Australia, Future Industries Institute, Main Sequence Ventures, Defence Science Technologies Group, University of Sydney & Becton Dickinson|
BioMedTech Horizons FAQ's
Q: Are there any future rounds for the BioMedTech Horizons Program?
A: BioMedTech Horizons program is a one-off grant. This program is part of the recently announced (October 2017) $35 million disbursed from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF). The scope and programs of the remaining $30 million will be announced in 2018.
Q: Can non-Australian industry partners be involved in the project?
A: The BioMedTech Horizons program’s mandate is to assist Australian research organisations and SMEs, the program has no restrictions on foreign owned businesses applying for projects (with Australian entities as primary applicant) where this brings benefit to Australia through collaboration and commercialisation with Australian research organisations. However, any foreign owned business needs to agree to a clause that they will deploy their IP utilisation/commercialisation within Australia (as well as globally, should they intend).
Q: Can interested groups submit more than one EOI?
A: Yes, multiple EOIs from an applicant will be accepted with unrelated research ideas or outcomes.
Q: Are companies listed on ASX eligible to apply?
A: Yes, the program is open to ASX listed entities in the MTP sector.
Q: Will MTPConnect or the Australian Government claim a stake in the Intellectual Property of the project?
A: MTPConnect or the Australian Government will not take any IP generated in this program. Public case studies delivered to MTPConnect and the Government will need to be shared, and we request a license to reproduce and use these.
Q: What is the least amount of funding available for a project?
A: Approximately $3 million is reserved for supporting ideas in precision medicine and $2 million for ideas in the 3D anatomical printing area. We expect to fund projects of approximately $1 million capacity each.
Q: Is BioMedTech Horizons a matched-funding program?
A: No, the BioMedTech Horizons program does not mandate matched-funding, but any cash or in-kind contributions from the applicant will be viewed favourably.