Tag Archives: research

Join the next TRaMx bootcamp – 11-12 Feb 2019

2018 successful applications gather and smile for the camera
2018 successful applicants gather and smile for the camera

TRaM are taking applications for TRaMx 2019

If you’ve been thinking about how you can have greater impact with your research, you’ve come to the right place. TRaM is now accepting applications for our first two TRaMx bootcamps of the year.

Designed to grow your understanding of research translation, TRaMx will accelerate your entrepreneurial thinking and research commercialisation, using practical frameworks and methodologies.

During the bootcamp, over two days, you will take a valuable first step toward research commercialisation by enhancing your entrepreneurial mindset, building commercial networks and engaging with customers to establish a clear process for commercialising your research with a group of likeminded go-getters.

TRaMx is open to both individuals and research teams. Students and staff from across the University of Melbourne and the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct are strongly encouraged to attend.

What’s even better is that TRaMx bootcamp is provided at no cost to participants (hooray!). The fully catered TRaMx workshops are held at the TRaM Depot, Level 5, 204 Lygon Street, Carlton.

Applications are open now for our forthcoming 2019 TRaMx bootcamps, which will take place on 11-12 February and 21-22 February.

Registrations close 1 February 2019.

If you are a researcher who is looking to accelerate the impact of their research or gain commercial insights please register your interest here… and if you know of someone who is on the same wavelength, please forward this email to them! We really like making new friends.

Interested in mentoring opportunities with TRaM?
A key part of what we do is connecting the dots and making magic happen by introducing TRaM individuals and teams with others actively engaged in research commercialisation. If you would like to find out more information about becoming a mentor for TRaM19, please email TRaM’s Program Manager, Andrew Rowse, at tram-program@unimelb.edu.au.

Restoring sight: Australia’s bionic eye

Bionic eye glasses and headgear displayed on a mannequin with the receiver attached.

Four patients have had a sense of vision restored after having Australia’s bionic eye surgically implanted as part of a clinical trial in Melbourne, Victoria.

The four patients have a degenerative genetic condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa which causes loss of vision. It affects about one in every 4,000 people, affecting 1.5 million people worldwide. It is the leading cause of inherited blindness; there is currently no cure.

In 2012, three patients were implanted with an early version of the device which showed success, but restricted use to the lab.
This second-generation device allows patients navigate outside and, more importantly, in their homes without the need for supervision. Melbourne researchers have been working hard to create the portable and permanent device over the last five years, to ensure that patients with the implant can have an improved quality of life.

The bionic eye consists of both implanted and body worn components. The patient wears glasses with a small video camera mounted on the side. Then, the live feed from the camera is processed and transmitted via an implanted microchip to an electrode array placed in a naturally occurring pocket behind the retina, called the suprachoroidal space. The electrodes stimulate remaining cells in the retina, to generate spots of light that give a patient a sense of vision.

Associate Professor Penny Allen, head of the Vitreoretinal Unit at The Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital, said she was pleased with the results.

“Each of the patients has returned home after surgery and are working with the clinical and research team to learn to use the device and incorporate it into their everyday lives.

“Based on our results so far, we know that our approach is safer and less invasive, and the patients have all made impressive progress with mobility and activities of daily living,” said A/Prof Allen.

Article sourced from The Bionics Institute, a proud  Melbourne Biomedical Precinct Partner 



Dr Laura Mackay awarded $1.25 million 2019 Viertel Fellowship

Two smiling women scientists in white coats and safety glasses inspecting a vial containing a pink substance.

University of Melbourne Laboratory Head and Senior Lecturer at the Doherty Institute, Dr Laura Mackay, has been awarded a $1.25 million, five year Viertel Foundation Fellowship to further her research into co-opting the body’s existing immune cells to work against viruses and cancers.

The development of optimal immunotherapies against viruses and cancer requires the generation of an effective cellular immune response. While some immune cells patrol the blood, a unique subset of T-cells, called tissue-resident memory T-cells, exist in tissues of the body and are different to those ordinarily circulating in the blood.

These type of T-cells are ‘first responders’ against pathogens that are encountered at body surfaces and are critical to immune protection for pathogens such as influenza, herpes simplex virus, malaria, and even some tumours. Most recently, these T-cells were associated with significantly improved survival rates in patients with breast cancer and melanoma.

Dr Mackay and her team are looking at ways to boost the generation of these T-cells and enhance their ability to protect people from disease via a new program of T-cell based immunotherapies that can work with existing treatments and improve patient outcomes.

“It’s an honour and privilege to be awarded the 2019 Viertel Fellowship, the funds will go a long way in advancing my quest to harness the immune system to fight infection and cancer,” Dr Mackay said.

“Investing in medical research is paramount for scientists to make discoveries and to enhance treatments. This is a tremendous commitment by the Sylvia and Charles Viertel Charitable Foundation and one that I’m extremely appreciative of.”

Dr MacKay originally wanted to pursue a career as an artist, like her mother. But decided on getting a ‘sensible’ degree in science. She became very interested in immunology after suffering from glandular fever during her time at university.

“Being creative is a crucial skill as a scientist – innovative discoveries don’t happen unless you think outside the box,” Dr Mackay said.

Dr Mackay was one of three researchers awarded a prestigious Senior Medical Research Fellowship from the Viertel Foundation with South Australian Health and Medical Science Institute and Flinders University Associate Professor James Ward also receiving a Viertel Fellowship, and Monash University Dr Kim Jacobson named the Bellberry-Viertel Fellow.

Professor Peter Leedman, Chairman of the Viertel Foundation’s Medical Advisory Board, revealed that the 2018 candidates were a very strong and closely matched high quality field representing very different disciplines, making the decision of selecting three from the six finalists extremely difficult.

“We really saw the depth and breadth of scientific research in Australia and it was truly inspiring. Every candidate is worthy of support for their research into areas which will have a critical impact on advancing medical and health outcomes for Australians and internationally,” Professor Leedman said.

Dr Laura Mackay from the Doherty Institute awarded $1.25 million 2019 Viertel Fellowship.

Article sourced fromhttps://www.doherty.edu.au/ 

Patients with coeliac disease given new hope with start of trial

The world’s first vaccine for people with coeliac disease is one step closer as phase two clinical trials get underway across Australia, led by The Royal Melbourne Hospital.

The trial holds the potential to protect coeliac patients from the harmful effects of gluten.

Principal Investigator at The Royal Melbourne Hospital and Head of Coeliac Research at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Dr Jason Tye-Din, said patient participation was crucial to the success of the trials of a treatment that could one day be life-changing for people living with coeliac disease.

“This trial is important in establishing clinical proof-of-concept for a treatment that would provide benefit beyond that of the gluten-free diet,” Dr Tye-Din said.

“The gluten-free diet is the only current treatment for coeliac disease but it is onerous, complex and not always effective.

“Even the most diligent patients can suffer the adverse effects of accidental exposure. This study will test if the vaccine, Nexvax2, can specifically target the immune response to gluten in people with coeliac disease and modify the associated effects.”

The trial of Nexvax2® (RESET CeD) for the treatment of coeliac disease will start in Melbourne and then roll out in Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Mackay and the Sunshine Coast.

Photo courtesy of The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research. 1G Royal Parade Parkville 3052 Australia

Article sourced from The Royal Melbourne Hospital

Two for one: mass drug administration has the potential to eliminate multiple neglected tropical diseases from populations

Image of mother and child standing, mother holding son and other hand a cooking wok in front of a thatched hut in the Solomon islands. There are two pigs in the background.

Researchers from the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct, the Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have partnered with researchers in the Solomon Islands to advance the fight against neglected tropical diseases in the Pacific by proving that it is possible to safely treat large populations for trachoma and scabies simultaneously.

For the study an entire population (26,000-plus) in the Choiseul Province of Solomon Islands was given antibiotics to treat these highly infectious neglected tropical diseases. The research, a collaboration between Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), the Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney, the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and Medical Services, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine is published in the latest issue of Lancet Global Health.

Professor Andrew Steer, from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the University of Melbourne, said administering the two antibiotics together had significant advantages – reducing costs and the burden on health services and the community; and ultimately leading to better disease control.

“We know from our previous research in Fiji* that administering the antibiotic ivermectin to entire communities reduced the prevalence of scabies by 94 per cent,” Prof Steer said. “This new study shows us that by adding azithromycin to the mix, we have the potential to double the bang for our buck and create high population-wide reductions in both scabies and trachoma at the same time.”

The Kirby Institute’s Lucia Romani, lead author on the paper, said scabies and trachoma were both recognised by the World Health Organisation as neglected tropical diseases, and responsible for significant disease in the Solomon Islands, and the Pacific region more broadly. For example, scabies affects 20 per cent of the population at any one time.

“Both scabies and trachoma are very easily treated by the antibiotics, ivermectin and azithromycin,” Dr Romani said. “This research found that mass administration of these antibiotics simultaneously was both safe and practical in a population of more than 26,000.

“This research indicates that there is now a need for new studies to assess the safety and effectiveness of co-administration of treatments for other neglected tropical diseases.”

The Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and Medical Services had begun a mass drug administration program against trachoma in 2014, and the Choiseul Province was the last scheduled to be treated.

Mr Oliver Sokana, a co-author from the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health, said everyone in Choiseul who received the treatment consented to take part in the study.

“Information sheets about the trial were given to community nurses, who were also briefed on the study and community members had the chance to meet the local health staff and ask questions,” he said.

Mr Sokana said the researchers carefully monitored adverse reactions to the treatments. They checked hospital admissions in the 24 hours after the vaccines were given; they asked participants about their health at the time of the treatments; and they undertook active surveillance in ten villages, which also included asking residents to fill in questionnaires.

“Finally we reviewed clinic and hospital admissions during the year after the treatments and compared them to the 12 months before,” Mr Sokana said.

According to the research data, there were no serious side effects to the treatments. Of the 21,817 study participants who received both doses, 571 (or 2.6 per cent) had mild reactions, which cleared in a week. These included dizziness, stomach pain and diarrhea.

In the month after the treatments were administered, 84 people were admitted to hospital and two died, compared to a monthly median of 16 admissions and six deaths. However the researchers say it is not possible to draw a connection between the fall in deaths and the treatment roll-out.

* ‘Mass Drug Administration for Scabies Control in a Population with Endemic Disease’ in New England Journal of Medicine

Article sourced from https://www.mcri.edu.au/