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Australian Government releases $10 million for high potential COVID-19 related clinical trials

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This immediate funding from the Australian Government under the MRFF’s Clinical Trials Activity initiative will support six promising Australian innovations, including two ‘next generation’ vaccines and customised 3D-printed face guards.

By mid-2021, volunteers aged between 18 and 75 years will be recruited for an accelerated clinical trial of two ‘next generation’ vaccines against COVID-19, developed by researchers at the University of Melbourne.

These clinical trials are among six chosen to receive immediate funding totaling $10.1 million from the Morrison Government’s Medical Research Future Fund’s Clinical Trials Activity Initiative.

These vaccines offer a number of potential advantages to ‘first-generation’ COVID-19 vaccines and do not require storage in the extremely low temperatures needed for the Pfizer vaccine.

Following encouraging results during preclinical

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testing, the Australian Government support is expediting the process to move research efforts from the lab and into human trials.

Among the other proposals to be tested are the use of germicidal ultraviolet light to reduce infection rates in aged care facilities, and 3D-printed face masks to match facial shape and prevent leaks.

Mask leak with existing P2/N95 respirators is a major problem for health care workers. The main reason for face mask leak is the individual variability in the shape of the human face.

One clinical trial will test the effectiveness and feasibility of customised 3D-printed face guards used in conjunction with P2/N95 respirators as a way of reducing face mask leak.

This is a rapidly scalable, customised technology that could quickly and feasibly be utilised around the world.

A further trial will test the effectiveness of an inexpensive and rapidly implementable germicidal ultraviolet air-treatment strategy, used in conjunction with existing infection control measures, as a means to reduce rates of respiratory viral infection in residential aged care facilities.

Each of these extremely promising Australian innovations has the potential to dramatically shift the global battle against COVID-19, which will begin clinical trials from early 2021.

Australian researchers are making such strong contributions to global efforts to reduce the toll of COVID-19 that a number of other clinical trials have been identified as strong candidates for possible future funding.

The clinical trials announced today are based in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney. They will deliver high-quality evidence that can be rapidly translated for use in this pandemic, and possibly, future pandemics.

The  Government’s Medical Research Future Fund matured at $20 billion in July 2020, providing a long term sustainable source of research funding. It is transforming Australia’s health and medical research sector and supporting our best and brightest researchers.

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