$1.46m NHMRC funding to support bringing research to life

Two Monash University researchers have received federal government funding to progress their projects towards the development of treatments for blocked arteries, and intravenous drug delivery in stroke patients.

Associate Professor Anthony Dear from the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences (MNHS), and Professor Jonathan Baell from the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (PPS) will share in $1.46 million from the latest NHMRC Development Grant Scheme.

The funding supports researchers at the proof-of-concept stage in the design and testing of new health and medical interventions that will drive commercial outcomes to deliver better health care.

Monash Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Professor Rebekah Brown said the projects contribute to our focus on addressing real health challenges at the individual level.

“These research projects tackle health issues that will ultimately help improve a patient’s quality of life. These NHMRC grants bring this research closer to industry, increasing the potential of large-scale application of these interventions,” Professor Brown said.

The two Monash University projects that have received funding are:

Medical device for targeted drug delivery to blood vessels – $808,505

Associate Professor Anthony Dear, from the Monash Eastern Health Clinical School, has pioneered a new photo-angioplasty device, Lumi-Solve, that uses a unique Swiss fibre-optic system to deliver a novel light-activated drug to the site of artery narrowing.  The aim of the device is to reduce local and systemic toxicity and prevent “scarring” and re-narrowing of arteries post-angioplasty procedure.

The grant will support the next steps in Lumi-Solve product development, including further in-vivo testing, refinement of prototype design and undertaking human feasibility studies.

“NHMRC support to evaluate and commercialise our novel medical device Lumi-Solve will potentially afford a safer and more effective treatment for patients with vascular disease due to post-angioplasty or stent restenosis and represents a significant advance in the management of this common, debilitating and costly condition,” said Associate Professor Dear.

Turning insoluble drugs soluble, preventing reperfusion injury in stroke $653,527

Professor Jonathan Baell, from the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences in PPS, has developed novel chemistry that will enable previously insoluble drugs to be dissolved in sterile water for intravenous dosing, important in some situations where oral dosing is simply not possible, such as incapacitated stroke victims.

The drug is called an NK1R antagonist and has provided Professor Baell with evidence that by treating an acute stroke victim within a 10-hour window after the stroke, the ensuing tissue damage may be greatly reduced and recovery enhanced.
“The NHMRC Development Grant will enable us to work toward demonstrating important proof-of-concept, with a principal focus on optimisation of the solubilisation chemistry so that we can licence the IP and attract investors to resource gold-standard preclinical testing and clinical development,” said Professor Baell.

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