Major project funding heralds new frontiers in innovative health futures

October 26, 2017

Murdoch University will transform the way new therapeutic drugs are tested.

A major project is now underway at Murdoch University to transform the way new therapeutic drugs are tested, giving the community and patients a greater say in treatment.

The project has received significant funding, including a grant from MTPConnect – the Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals Industry Growth Centre – and a long list of medical sector partners, including Telethon Kids Institute as a key cash partner. Other supporting partners include St John of God Hospital Subiaco and Foundations for inherited forms of Motor Neurone Disease (MNDi) and Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics Australia (FAST).

Professor Matthew Bellgard, Director of the Centre for Comparative Genomics, will lead the two-year investigation.

“This project is a feasibility study for the development of national digital infrastructure to support adaptive clinical trials and ‘trial-ready’ natural history cohort studies,” Professor Bellgard said.

“Drug regulators are increasingly encouraging the use of innovative approaches in place of traditional clinical trial designs to expedite the development of new products.”

“Implementation of innovative trial designs requires patient information to be captured, entered, and available for analyses in near real-time. The solution aims to build the digital infrastructure required to realise this vision.”

Expert in adaptive clinical trials and clinical lead of this project, Associate Professor Tom Snelling, based at Telethon Kids Institute said, “The Telethon Kids Institute is excited to be partnering with Murdoch University in this endeavour. We realise the need to adopt more innovative methods of evaluation if precision medicines are to be brought from the bench to the bedside.

“The funding aims to help Australian biotech companies to partner with patient and academic groups in adaptive clinical trials and trial-ready cohort studies through the development of digital tools.

“Effective public/private partnerships are critical to evaluating new drugs and other therapeutic products, facilitating accelerated access to new therapies by Australian patients.”

The project team will concentrate initially on cystic fibrosis and hepatitis C as two exemplar diseases, to evaluate effectiveness of the digital solution.

Professor Bellgard added that there are numerous rare disease communities, in particular motor neurone disease and Angelman syndrome for whom this digital infrastructure will be vital in enabling rare disease registries to become clinical trial ready.

“The digital platform that we build will be open-source, facilitating modification and redeployment,” he said.

“We envisage that patient groups for other diseases will partner with independent medical research institutes, clinical trial facilities, and small to medium enterprises accelerating the development of therapeutic and other biotechnologies in Australia.”

MTPConnect’s Project Fund Program is a competitive, dollar-for-dollar matched funding program investing in big, bold ideas to improve the productivity, competitiveness and innovative capacity of Australia’s medical technology, biotechnology and pharmaceutical sector. MTPConnect is supported by the Australian Government’s Industry Growth Centres Initiative.

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