Date published: 
3 September 2020
Media type: 
Media release
Audience: 
General public

The Australian Government is backing several Australian research projects aimed at finding breakthrough treatments, diagnostics and – the ultimate – a vaccine in the fight against COVID-19.

Our Government has allocated $10.4 million for 13 early stage biomedical projects through Biomedical Translation Bridge (BTB) program, which forms part of the landmark Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

Five of them are COVID-19 research projects receiving $4.1 million. A key project, conducted by the University of Melbourne, involves developing an innovative ventilated hood for patients in isolation.

The Hood provides better respiratory treatment for patients, reducing the need for invasive ventilation, and also gives hospital staff greater protection from COVID-19, reducing viral levels in the immediate surroundings.

The novel hood is effective, comfortable, reusable and can be rapidly improved for urgent supply to Australian hospitals, clinics, GP surgeries, and beyond. A smaller, mobile version under development will have significant health benefits in developing countries and for patient transport.

Other COVID-19 research projects include a vaccine candidate being developed in South Australia, a new treatment for respiratory complications of COVID-19, a preventive nasal spray, and a rapid response test to predict how severely the disease will progress.

The remaining eight projects, receiving $6.3 million, will help patients of the future with new treatments and diagnostics for conditions such as muscular dystrophy, breast cancer, metabolic and fibrotic disease, prostate cancer, ataxia, antimicrobial resistance and the Zika virus.

Industry partners have contributed a further $28 million to the 13 projects, complementing our Government’s investment of $10.4 million – this means a total of $38.4 million is being invested into the biomedical sector. 

The BTB is a four year $22.3 million MRFF program, operated by MTPConnect.

It helps researchers transform their ideas into new treatments to help tomorrow’s patients. These investments are from the second and third rounds of the BTB program.

Research is a key weapon in the fight against COVID-19.

The emphasis of the BTB program is on rapid translation of ideas into new products and treatments that will make a real difference to patients, both in Australia and globally.

Research is also about jobs and exports – which is particularly important as we tackle both the social and economic disruption of the pandemic to our lives and livelihoods.

Further details of 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 blood 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.

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.

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.

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.

Ministers: