Victorian Medical Research Acceleration Fund

Up to $500,000 is available from the Victorian Medical Research Acceleration Fund to support medical research into health and economic outcomes.

Victorian Medical Research Acceleration Fund

Victorian Medical Research Acceleration Fund

The Victorian Medical Research Acceleration Fund is a competitive program designed to leverage funding from philanthropic, industry and international sources. Applications will be accepted from collaborations or partnerships between health services, industry, universities and medical research institutes, with a focus on early research and translation. It is designed to capitalise on Victoria’s comparative advantages in health and medical research, increase the efficiency of the Victorian health system and further enhance the Victorian economy’s investment attractiveness.

 

Background

Victoria’s Health and Medical Research Strategy 2016-2020 is designed to embed health and medical research into the Victorian health system and accelerate the translation of research into health and economic outcomes. The vision of the strategy is to position Victoria as a global leader in health and medical research, improve the health outcomes of Victorians and strengthen the state economy. The strategy will facilitate the delivery of improved health outcomes and economic benefits for Victoria and the nation by investing in areas of excellence and addressing areas in need of further development.

A key strategic direction of Victoria’s Health and Medical Research Strategy 2016-2020 is to stimulate research and innovation by increasing translation and facilitating collaborations between research organisations and industry. The Victorian Medical Research Acceleration Fund will provide up to $3 million per annum for the translation of early stage health and medical research into health and economic outcomes.

 

Objectives

The expected outcomes and/or benefits of Round 3 of the Victorian Medical Research Acceleration Fund are:

  • Direct support for innovative early research
  • Increase ability to leverage third party funding (e.g. industry, philanthropy
  • Fast tracked research efforts in areas identified as having translational importance to the Victorian health system, and that facilitate the dual benefits to community of economic growth and health efficiencies
  • Support for collaboration between health services, medical research institutes, universities and industry to attract venture capital and stimulate commercialisation activities and jobs growth
  • Encourage a diversified revenue base for independent medical research institutes, by applying incentives to increase government revenue, philanthropic, commercial and international grant income
  • Positioning of Victoria to receive additional funding from a diverse range of sources and enhance Victoria’s national and international competitiveness.

 

Funding

The Victorian Medical Research Acceleration Fund provides $3 million er funding round to help address current market gaps and deliver rewards for research. It supports a small number of research proposals to ‘fast track’ translation into health and economic outcomes.

Round 3 of the Victorian Medical Research Acceleration Fund will have funding available for proposals up to $100,000 and $500,000.

 

Eligible Projects

The Victorian Medical Research Acceleration Fund Research applications must:

  • Be for early stage innovations, including discovery research, clinical research and/or health practice/ health service
  • Support an idea or innovation to attract peer review funding or investment by industry, philanthropy or other sources
  • Require matching funding to demonstrate capacity to collaborate. To undertake research that has a clear pathway to translation
  • Articulate how the fund will ‘fast track’ the research into health and economic outcomes

Describe how the fund will increase the ability to leverage third party funding eg. from industry or philanthropic sources.

 

Eligible Applicants

The Victorian Medical Research Acceleration Fund is open to the following organisations undertaking health and medical research in Victoria:

  • Health Services
  • Industry
  • Universities
  • Medical research institutes

Partnership with another organisation is mandatory and may include health services, universities, medical research institutes, or industry.

The Victorian Medical Research Acceleration Fund eligible research proposals will:

  • Advance collaborations, industry-research engagement, and innovation
  • Secure development and commercialisation opportunities
  • Detail potential commercial and/or health application
  • Commence in 2019
  • Publicly communicate the outcomes within an agreed timeframe, including to other researchers, clinicians, students, consumers and health care decision-makers
  • Undertake the work predominantly in Victoria.

 

Timing

Applications for Round 3 of the Victorian Medical Research Acceleration Fund close 3 October 2018.

 

Current Recipients

Monash University – $100,000
Researchers from Monash University have highlighted the role of a pituitary-derived hormone on receptors on skeletal muscle receptors to increase systemic glucose tolerance. This discovery describes previously unappreciated, but important mechanisms in the basic control of glucose homeostasis and positions this pathway as a potential therapeutic target for Type 1 diabetes. This research will fast-track the proposal through to clinical proof of concept and progress through to partnership with industry.

Murdoch Children’s Research Institute – $100,000
Researchers at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute will initiate a feasibility study at the Victorian Clinical Genetics Services, partly funded by the Foundation for Prada-Willi Research. This study aims to translate cutting-edge translational research, with the developed capabilities and trained workforce to be applied to rare disorders of significant health-economic burden.

University of Melbourne – $100,000
The project integrates efforts between a university, medical research institute, hospital and start-up company to achieve important health outcomes. It is highly multi-disciplinary, bringing together life science and medicine with biomedical engineering, physics and computing. The Stentrode has been designed to ensure translation to humans; a first-in-human trial is scheduled in 2019 to develop a means of stimulating the brain without the need for open brain surgery.

St Vincent’s Hospital – $100,000
Inflammatory Bowel Disease refers to conditions such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. More than 75,000 Australians have one of these conditions. Researchers at St Vincent’s Hospital have demonstrated through a randomised controlled trial that more than half of patients with active ulcerative colitis who are resistant to drug therapy, respond to changing the gut microbiota by using faecal microbiota transplantation. This study will determine the efficacy of faecal microbiota transplantation for both inducing remission and maintenance for active Inflammatory Bowel Disease. This is the first prospective study to evaluate faecal microbiota transplantation efficacy in Crohn’s disease and maintenance treatment in Inflammatory Bowel Disease and has the potential to revolutionise treatment options in this area.

The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research – $100,000
Novel cancer cell treatment includes using antibodies to kill cancer cells. Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Researchers have developed a antibody that can activate programmed cell death in cancer cells. By working in partnership with a Victorian biotechnology company Patrys, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research will progress current research programs to develop novel therapeutics for cancer and potentially other diseases to circumvent prosurvival pathways found in almost all cancer cells. This project will couple two antibodies to enhance killing of cancer cells.

The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health – $100,000
To reduce the social and economic burdens of Alzheimer’s disease is the availability of sensitive cognitive tools for detecting early abnormalities. Researchers require neuroimaging techniques to find candidates for clinical trials. The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, have designed a web-based task that assesses individuals’ ability to learn new information. This involves learning a large set of Chinese characters over 6 days. Pilot data shows learning rates are substantially reduced in cognitively normal older adults with abnormal Alzheimer’s pathology. Researchers aim to use this pilot study on other large Alzheimer’s cohorts, to determine task efficacy for pre-screening candidates for clinical trials.

Deakin University – $99,721
Deakin University will aim to develop new drugs that mimic the beneficial effects of exercise to treat obesity, diabetes and heart disease. In partnership with Imitex Pty Ltd, to deliver a new class of drug ready for commercialisation that will have beneficial effects on metabolism and prevent the gradual decline to heart failure in obesity and type 2 diabetes, which remains one of the biggest causes of morbidity and mortality in these patients. Researchers have recently published proof-of-concept studies detailing a drug approach to mimic aspects of exercise that enhance muscle metabolism and heart function in obesity. This is highly significant as there are no drugs that target these aspects of metabolic disease.

The Bionics Institute of Australia – $92,836
Researchers are currently developing an infant-friendly brain imaging technique using functional near-infrared spectroscopy to assess the hearing level of an infant, and to evaluate whether the infant’s brain is able to distinguish different speech sounds and evaluate language development stage. Verifying a hearing device is enabling different speech sounds to be heard and distinguished by an infant is crucial for optimising their access to sound at the earliest age possible.

Deakin University – $100,000
Researchers at Deakin University will develop and test a technology-enabled sleep health intervention for people with diabetes using Somfit technology. The researchers will test effects on key health outcomes for patients with diabetes. We anticipate significant improvements in sleep quality, waist circumference, blood glucose, insulin resistance, quality of life, diet and physical activity in the intervention group.

The Royal Women’s Hospital – $100,000
Researchers aim to develop innovative diagnostic tests to develop a rapid increase in rates of sexually transmitted infections in the community has occurred in a background of escalating antibiotic resistance. This project identifies unmet needs in testing for sexually transmitted infections with a focus on detection of antibiotic resistance.

St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research – $98,798
This proposal will accelerate development of small-molecule therapeutics for type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes affects more than 415 million people globally resulting in high blood glucose levels that lead to heat and blood vessel disease, and damage to nerves, kidneys and eyes.

University of Melbourne – $100,000
A team at Melbourne University have developed a minimally invasive brain machine called the Stentrode that could return independence to people with Motor Neuron Disease through direct brain-control of assistive technologies for in-home use. This project will develop the software that is required for the first in human trial of the Stentrode at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in Melbourne. This work could return the ability of Motor Neuron Disease sufferers to speak.

Alfred Health – $100,000
Researchers at Alfred Health is developing a novel treatment of refractory absence epilepsy. The current research proposal is to perform a study at the Alfred Hospital to evaluate the safety, pharmacokinetics, and efficacy of multiple oral doses in patients with refractory absence epilepsy. The data from this study will support the design of the next phase of studies that could lead to the approval of a key drug for the significant unmet health need of refractory absence epilepsy.

LaTrobe University – $100,000
Breast cancer affects one in nine Australian women. Triple Negative Breast Cancer is an aggressive and poorly understood form of the disease. A widespread and collaborative study between AstraZeneca/MedImmune Limited, La Trobe University, the Hudson Institute and Peninsula and South East Oncology will test the safety, efficacy and immune activating capacity of a drug in Triple Negative Breast Cancer patients, with the fast tracking clinical trials using this immunotherapy at multiple Victorian cancer centres. The team of researchers has now demonstrated that Intratumoral injection dramatically reduces metastatic spread of cancer.

Monash University – $100,000
Researchers at Monash University are developing new treatments that protect hair cells aim to transform clinical practice, reduce the damaging effects of noise trauma, and improve the quality of life in ageing populations. A protease present in the cochlea, that is responsible for hair cell death and hearing deterioration following trauma, has been identified. We anticipate that a drug that blocks its function will preserve hearing.

St Vincent’s Hospital – $100,000
Researchers at St Vincent’s Hospital propose that in situ surgical 3D bio-printing of a patient’s own stem cells can generate long-lasting articular cartilage to successfully treat joint injuries. The specific aims of this proposal is to create, in the lab, a functional Osteochondral Unit via a cutting-edge combination of 3D bioprinting technologies. The proposed body of work addresses the key components needed for success, including a focus on achieving successful adhesion (lateral integration) of the newly grown cartilage with its native counterpart, and on creating both bone and cartilage within the canvas of a patient’s own, living body.

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre – $100,000
Prostate cancer is a lethal disease killing approximately 3500 Australian men every year. This research project has the potential to bring a new therapy into clinical trial for Victorian men with advanced metastatic prostate cancer. It will also involve training of PhD students and Research Fellows based in Victoria and therefore increase the overall expertise and research capacity in Victoria. This research will give Victoria a leadership edge in performing first-in-human studies of a novel therapeutic approach, combined with increased expertise in research capability. The results from this project, will form the basis of a clinical trial application to test this therapy with patients across hospitals affiliated with Monash University and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

Florey Institute of Neuroscience & Mental Health – $99,035
In Australia, the health burden of substance use disorders is estimated at approximately $45 billion and in the absence of new strategies, this figure will increase. We propose a program of trials to re-purposing existing medications into addiction therapies. An existing medication for the treatment of sleep disorders, has the potential to be used for the treatment of alcohol use disorder. Preclinical data from the laboratory suggest that that this drug will also show efficacy in addiction. Human trials using existing client bases will occur at St Vincent’s Hospital.

University of Melbourne – $100,000
Orthopaedic and maxillofacial implants are used for conditions such as cranio-facial deformities, cancer, arthritis and trauma. With the advent of 3D printing, hospitals are trialling custom or bespoke implants as the new standard of care. Australia leads in custom implants research and development with the success of several world-first surgeries (for example the personalised jaw prosthesis). This project will contribute to the development of new regulatory framework, implant registry and vital technologies to ensure safe and successful treatment outcome for patients.

Monash University – $100,000
Skin cancer is the most prevalent and costly cancer to the Australian health system. Developed by Monash University and MoleMap, an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm has shown diagnostic accuracy. This has not been tested in the clinical setting. The aim of this project is to compare the diagnostic accuracy of an AI system developed by MoleMap to that of specialist dermatologists in the clinical setting. We propose a pilot trial in which all lesions of concern are photographed and initially dermatologists are blinded to AI diagnosis. Following this dermatologists will be provided with the AI diagnosis prior to making a decision on management. This research aims to improve diagnostic accuracy of benign to malignant appropriate choice of biopsy technique, cost to patients and healthcare system.

Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute – $97,500
Gene therapy for heart failure has already entered the clinic and is safe and well tolerated. For this to progress further and be available to more patients we need to target genes which can improve function of the failing heart. This project would represent the first development of a novel gene therapy which specifically targets the heart and can be manufactured at amounts for clinical delivery. The development of heart muscle cell-specific therapies represents a novel and innovative approach. Long-term, we aim to develop a safe, effective treatment for heart failure with an aim to improve heart function and quality of life for heart failure patients. This would have significant implications for the quality of life for heart failure patients in Victoria and Australia-wide.

University of Melbourne – $100,000
The University of Melbourne will utilise recent discoveries showing the potential of selenium-based nanomaterials with tuneable antibacterial properties against bacteria, and much lower toxicity than the commonly used silver nanoparticles. This project will accelerate the use of antimicrobial nanomaterials to be applied to a wide range of medical devices and implants, leading to reduced rates of device-associated infections and improved healing of chronic wounds.

RMIT University – $99,611
Existing medical and clinical health applications use data protection to ensure privacy and medical record security. It has been proposed that the introduction of Blockchain technology within the applications can substantially reduce operational costs whilst improving security of the applications. RMIT and DB Results Pty Ltd, jointly developed Blockchain enabled security and protection mechanisms to facilitate the secure transmission and sharing of health data.

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre – $100,000
There are over 200 types of cancer and most areas of the body can be affected. There is an urgent need for new curative therapies. Researchers at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre have identified a new biological pathway that may cause cancer growth and development, that could be targeted for new therapies.

University of Melbourne – $96,747
This proposal combines social networking and therapeutic approaches to support youth mental health. Researchers at the University of Melbourne are using artificial intelligence to predict mental ill health and deliver tailored therapeutic support to smartphones. The project aims to assist young people with mental health issues using data analytics tailored to individual circumstances.

Australian Prostate Cancer Research – $100,000
Prostate cancer affects millions of men all over the world. Evidence indicates that men want to be able to get on with their lives without having to travel long distances to visit specialist Cancer Centres for the management and treatment of their disease. Prostmate is an online clinical support program for anyone affected by prostate cancer.
Renewal of the Prostmate application will enable improved patient functionality to support rural and remote patients. We will facilitate the provision of specialist advice and education enabling patients the opportunity to be more inform and empower in their healthcare. Personalised applications that manage, remind and monitor an individual’s adherence to a treatment plan greatly increases the efficacy of the treatment. This improves the health of the individual, reduces diagnostic and medical appointment time and builds a patients’ confidence in their health support services.

Alfred Health – $100,000
Ten percent of patients develop epilepsy after a stroke. Researchers at Alfred Health will investigate whether brain glutamate levels measured by magnetic resonance imaging can be used to predict epilepsy in stroke survivors. There is no reliable biomarker to identify those at risk. Glutamate is a chemical in the brain which becomes elevated after stroke. It has a significant role in initiating and sustaining seizures. Traditionally measuring brain glutamate requires biopsy which is invasive. The advent of ultra-high-field magnetic resonance imaging allows mapping whole brain glutamate non-invasively using novel analysis method. Researchers will aim to optimise monitoring of stroke survivors and selection of at risk patients for clinical trials with medications that target the glutamate system to prevent epilepsy.

Burnet Institute – $100,000
The Burnett will focused on developing a technology that can be used to promote a healthy vaginal microbiota, reduce cervicovaginal inflammation potentially leading to a reduction of recurrence of bacterial vaginosis as well as reduce the risk of infection from sexually transmitted infections. Using the established hydrogel material technology, we propose to develop an intravaginal drug delivery device capable of altering and ultimately maintaining the healthy vaginal microbiome, to promote significant health benefits, and to prevent and treat sexually transmitted infections.

Monash University – $92,500
With the emergence of drug resistant ‘superbugs’ researchers aim to fight against arguably the greatest threat to human health in the 21st century. Resistance to antimicrobial drugs is a key issue in medicine with the rise of so-called ‘superbugs’. Researchers at Monash University will use novel approaches to detect antimicrobial resistant markers and explore the potential for rapid detection. This will lead to improved use of existing antimicrobials through timely selection of effective treatments, reducing mortality and morbidity. The expected outcomes of this project will lead to a better understanding of the molecular basis of drug resistant ‘superbugs’, a critical step in health disease and prevention strategies.

St Vincent’s Hospital – $81,805
The progressive loss of kidney function over time leading to end-stage chronic kidney disease is a severe and debilitating health problem, with the number of Australians with chronic kidney disease is steadily increasing. Aside from the physical effects, chronic kidney disease patients experience high rates of comorbid depression and anxiety. These mental health issues have an adverse impact upon treatment adherence, quality of life, social connectedness and health care costs. The Optimal Health Program is a self-management program that aims to address the mental health and wellbeing of individuals. Researchers at St Vincent’s Hospital have developed and refined a version of the program into the Kidney Optimal Health Program, specifically adapted for individuals with chronic kidney disease.

 

More Information

2018-09-09T18:46:47+00:00September 6th, 2018|