Red SARS-CoV-2 virus particles against a red backround

Industry collaborations progress research in advanced imaging and vaccination

27 February 2023
New funding bolsters medical and science research collaborations.
University of Sydney researchers involved in successful Cooperative Research Centres Projects (CRC-P) grants to advance image guided cancer surgery and develop a needle-free COVID-19 vaccine.

University of Sydney medical and science researchers will be involved in two successful Cooperative Research Centres Projects (CRC-P) grants designed to support short term, industry-led collaborative research.

The projects, involving researchers from the Faculty of Medicine and Health and Faculty of Science, will support the development of a needle-free skin patch for COVID-19 vaccination and advance the commercial scale manufacturing of particular nanoparticles for image guided cancer surgery and therapy

A total of 19 industry-led collaborative research and development projects will share in $44 million in funding recently announced by the Australian Government.

Advancing the use of SPIONs for image guided cancer surgery and therapy

Associate Professor Brian Hawkett

Associate Professor Brian Hawkett from the Faculty of Science

Ferronova is an Australian biotech company developing super-paramagnetic iron-oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) for image-guided cancer surgery and therapy.

Nanotechnology has been widely researched in oncology, but clinical translation has been limited by complex manufacturing and limited effectiveness in vivo.

Building on nanoparticle research previously undertaken by Associate Professor Brian Hawkett and chemists within the University of Sydney’s Key Centre for Polymers and Colloids, this CRC-P aims to address these issues and develop commercial scale manufacturing of Ferronova’s FerroTrace SPION platform.

Associate Professor Hawkett will help steer the project alongside partners from Australian Bragg Centre for Proton Theraphy and Research Limited, Siemens Healthcare Pty Ltd, South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute Limited and the University of South Australia.

Developing a needle-free skin patch COVID-19 vaccine

Professor Rachel Skinner

Professor Rachel Skinner from the Faculty of Medicine and Health

Vaxxas is a Brisbane based biotechnology company advancing the development and clinical testing of the first COVID-19 vaccine candidate delivered using its needle-free skin patch.

The vaccine patch has the potential to be stored at elevated temperatures and be administered by lower skilled users, and potentially self-administered. 

University of Sydney clinician researcher Professor Rachel Skinner has played a key role in researching the safety, feasibility, acceptability and usability of the Vaxxas technology.

In collaboration with the University of Queensland, this CRC-P grant will support further development of the technology including Phase II clinical studies, paveing the way for licensing and sovereign manufacture.

Streamlining storage and distribution, and simplifying administration could improve the access and acceptability of COVID-19 booster vaccinations as well as reduce the cost, ultimately reducing the public health and economic consequences of COVID-19 vaccinations moving forward.

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