08 August 2012
Research deal may lead to new vaccines
New vaccines for a range of serious illnesses may emerge from a research agreement signed between RMIT University and biotechnology company BioDiem Ltd.
BioDiem, based in Melbourne and listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, works with the influenza virus and other research platforms to develop world-class research and technology for the treatment of cancers and infectious diseases.
RMIT's School of Applied Sciences will work with BioDiem to explore the potential for new vaccines based on successful work already done by the company to produce influenza vaccines administered by nasal spray.
"There are some very exciting opportunities to be explored in this area, and the versatility of our technology gives rise to a lot of potential new treatments," BioDiem CEO Julie Phillips said.
Promising areas for research include mosquito-borne diseases like malaria, as well as other infectious diseases and certain forms of cancer.
According to Professor Peter Smooker, of the School of Applied Sciences, BioDiem will provide seed funding for the research, and the partners will seek further funding in joint applications.
RMIT will earn royalties on any commercial developments resulting from the research.
RMIT and BioDiem are optimistic that the ability of the company's Live Attenuated Influenza Virus to create a strong immune response will be transferrable into treatments for other medical conditions.
"The ability to utilise a virus that has a long history of safety and efficacy in humans for the development of vaccines against other diseases is a great opportunity," Professor Smooker said.
"This work will also undoubtedly provide excellent training for many of our bright students, under the direction of myself and Dr Hao Van, with opportunities to participate in some of the very important work going on at present to explore how the influenza vaccine's benefits can be expanded into new fields."
Professor Smooker's research interests focus on targeting of the immune system, various platforms for vaccines and the structure and function of proteins - all areas of central importance to the research program.
He is a core member of the Health Innovations Research Institute.
Professor Peter Smooker.