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Medical advances a step closer with NHMRC funds

Clinical trials of a cancer-fighting antibody will move a step closer with a grant of almost $800 000 from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Research led by cancer immunologists Professor Mark Smyth and Associate Professor John Miles is one of two projects at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute to be awarded more than $1.2 million development funding from the NHMRC.

“We have determined that the protein CD96 – which is found on the surface of immune cells – inhibits their ability to attack cancer cells,” Professor Smyth said.

“This project will develop and screen a series of antibodies against human CD96 to select the best candidate for a clinical trial.

“This could potentially be used to treat some of the most deadly forms of cancer including advanced metastatic disease.”

Dr Glen Boyle has secured almost $470 000 to develop a topical treatment for wound healing from compounds extracted from a rainforest plant, in conjunction with Queensland company QBiotics.

“We will assess the compounds and make and test formulations to optimise effectiveness and safety,” Dr Boyle said.

QIMR Berghofer director Professor Frank Gannon said NHMRC Development Grants were vital to driving key “building block” scientific discoveries into clinical trials.

“Our focus is always on translational science, advancing our important findings from bench to bedside.

“We would like to thank the NHMRC for recognising the exciting and innovative work underway at QIMR Berghofer.”

The grants were part of a $123.5 million dollar announcement made today by the Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley.

NHMRC CEO Professor Warwick Anderson said the grants were an important mechanism for encouraging the translation of research into health outcomes.

“I look forward to following these grants on their path to commercialisation, many of which have the potential to both substantially improve human health as well as create economic prosperity for Australia,” Professor Anderson said.