The world’s next big medical breakthroughs could be in the hands of four University of Queensland researchers, announced as National Health and Medical Research Council Development Grant recipients.
Professors Paul Young, Mark Walker, Glenn King and Dr Barbara Rolfe will work on proof-of-concept research projects, including a universal flu vaccine, new therapies for advanced cancers and the development of a drug to protect the brain after stroke.
Dr Keith Chappell from Professor Young’s project at the UQ’s School of Chemistry and Molecular Biology said that the grant would fund promising research on a more efficient flu vaccine.
“Using UQ’s molecular clamp technology, our research seeks to develop an improved vaccine that can provide increased protection against seasonal strains, as well as avian strains that may have pandemic potential,” Dr Chappell said.
“We’ve shown that this technology works with influenza and a diverse array of viruses including RSV, Ebola and Nipah.
“This grant will allow us pursue research which will hopefully decrease the burden of seasonal flu infections, as well as protect against future flu pandemics.”
Dr Barbara Rolfe from UQ’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) will start a new project which focusses on using the immune system to target cancer.
“Cancer affects one in two Australians by the age of 85, and this funding will help advance our research into the role of innate immunity in cancer,” Dr Rolfe said.
“It will utilise proof-of-concept studies to validate a novel immunotherapeutic strategy, triggering effective anti-tumour responses in patients that are unresponsive to current approaches.
“If successful, it could lead to the development of novel therapeutic strategies for advanced cancers.”
The project is a collaboration between Dr Rolfe and AIBN’s Dr Helga Manthey, along with Associate Professor Trent Woodruff and Dr Lavinia Proctor at UQ’s School of Biomedical Sciences, Professor Andrew Barbour of UQ’s Faculty of Medicine and Professor Ruben Pio at the University of Navarra in Spain.
More information about the grants and their recipients is available on the NHMRC website.