‘Incredibly exciting’: Coast uni develops breakthrough drug

 

A GOLD Coast university has signed a multimillion-dollar deal to tackle one of the world's deadliest diseases.

Griffith University's Institute for Glycomics will partner with Hong Kong medical giant China Grand Pharma to further develop a drug to combat the Human Parainfluenza Virus (hPIV).

The virus is one of the most common causes of respiratory illnesses in infants, sick and the elderly. Symptoms including bronchitis, bronchiolitis, croup and pneumonia.

Respiratory tract infections killed more than 3.2 million people in 2015 alone.

There are no therapeutic options on the market that specifically treat hPIV infection.

While the exact dollar figure of the landmark deal has not been revealed, the contract will include a lump-sum payment for research, licence fees and ongoing royalties once the drug is ready for sale.

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Professor Mark von Itzstein AO with Vice Chancellor Professor Carolyn Evans, along with China Grand Pharma representatives Dr Linda Shi and Michael Wang. Pic Tim Marsden
Professor Mark von Itzstein AO with Vice Chancellor Professor Carolyn Evans, along with China Grand Pharma representatives Dr Linda Shi and Michael Wang. Pic Tim Marsden

Griffith will co-develop and commercialise the unnamed drug which was invented in their labs. The drug will undergo further testing before it can be sold commercially.

Institute for Glycomics director Professor Mark von Itzstein AO has been working on the breakthrough drug for a decade.

The Glycomics team was also behind the world's first drug to tackle influenza and relenza.

China Grand Pharma consider the international research program a significant step in building their drug discovery pipeline.

The parainfluenza virus.
The parainfluenza virus.

"We are extremely pleased to finalise this significant commercial agreement with China Grand Pharma that will develop the world's first small molecule drug to treat the diseases caused by hPIV, " China Grand Pharma Vice President Michael Wang said.

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"We believe that combining the institute's unique platform with our capabilities in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sector will allow for the rapid and effective development of new therapeutics to combat this deadly virus and contribute to better global health."

Griffith University Vice Chancellor and President, Professor Carolyn Evans said the deal was a "perfect example" of the institute's pioneering research.

The deal is worth millions of dollars. Pic Tim Marsden
The deal is worth millions of dollars. Pic Tim Marsden

"With neither an hPIV treatment nor vaccine currently on the market, there is a clear unmet clinical need and market opportunity for an hPIV therapy; thus, this licensing agreement and co-development deal is incredibly exciting and raises hope for millions around the globe," Prof Evans said.

The agreement represents Australia's largest preclinical deal with China Grand Pharma.

China Grand Pharma has made major investments in several international companies including an Australian company Sirtex Medical Pty Ltd, German company Cardionovum GmbH and Canadian company Conavi Medical Inc.


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