- The Australian government has announced that it is investing AU$13.3 million into medical technologies to help people living with severe mobility issues and chronic back pain.
- Scientists have shown they can stop melanoma from spreading to distant organs – a breakthrough that has the potential to significantly reduce the number of Australians dying from the skin cancer.
- Researchers uses seaweed to develop a treatment for people with traumatic brain injury. Australian researchers believe the marine algae can be used to help heal damaged brain tissue caused by injury or stroke.
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 13th of September 2017. Read by Tabetha Moreto. Health News
The Australian government has announced that it is investing thirteen point three million Australian dollars into medical technologies to help people living with severe mobility issues and chronic back pain. The five hundred million dollar Biomedical Translation Fund or BTF will invest five million dollars into Rex Bionics for the development of a hands-free robotic device to assist in rehabilitation; five million Australian dollars into Charm Informatics for data gathering and commercialisation services for smart medical device manufacturers; and three point three million dollars into Saluda Medical for the development of technologies to help sufferers of chronic back pain. Health Minister Greg Hunt said funds from the BTF – a co-investment venture capital program in which government dollars are matched by private equity — provides a bridge between the lab and patients. Hunt said in a statement: “Australia is a world leader in health and medical research, but all too often, it takes many years and offshore investment to turn these discoveries into new and better options for patients.’’
The Australian government said during the launch that it would inject seventy million dollars into the joint public-private sector fund over the next ten years. The government’s twenty billion dollars Medical Research Future Fund is similarly looking to translate research into results.
Scientists have shown they can stop melanoma from spreading to distant organs – a breakthrough that has the potential to significantly reduce the number of Australians dying from the skin cancer. Two international drug trials – led by investigators at Melanoma Institute Australia – have proven successful in preventing the spread of the disease in Stage three melanoma patients whose tumours had been surgically removed.
In Australia, one person dies of Melanoma every five hours. If identified early, melanoma is easily cured via surgical removal from the skin surface. However for about fifteen per cent of melanoma patients the disease has spread to the lymph nodes which is classified as Stage three melanoma. Until now, these patients were at a high risk – forty to seventy percent – of their disease progressing to advanced and fatal melanoma. For the first clinical trial – called COMBI-AD – patients were randomised to receive a combination of targeted therapies – dabrafenib and trametinib – or placebo for twelve months.
The drugs work to block the action of a particular gene mutation – known as BRAF – that drives the spread of the disease. This mutation is present in about forty per cent of melanoma patients.
The other trial called CheckMate two three eight compared two immunotherapy drugs – nivolumab versus ipilmumab – on patients with high risk Stage three and Stage four disease.
Currently, these drugs are only approved for patients with Stage IV melanoma, however it’s hoped the new research will build on a case to make these drugs available to those with earlier stages of the disease.
Researchers have turned to seaweed to develop a treatment aimed at helping people with traumatic brain injury. People have been eating seaweed for decades and now Australian researchers believe the marine algae can be used to help heal damaged brain tissue caused by injury or stroke. Researchers at RMIT University and the Australian National University have teamed up with Tasmanian biopharmaceutical company Marinova to create a novel treatment for people with traumatic brain injury by tapping into the anti-inflammatory properties of seaweed. The researchers combined polysaccharide – a naturally occurring sugar molecule found in seaweed – with short peptides or small proteins to create a “hydrogel scaffold” that prevents scarring and promotes healing.
“The Japanese have long used seaweed for therapeutic purposes and it turns out there is an abundance of similar seaweed in Tasmania,” said lead researcher Doctor Richard Williams from RMIT University. Traumatic brain injury causes devastating long-term functional damage as the natural inflammatory response to injury prevents regrowth, which in turn prevents the healing process.When the specially engineered hydrogel scaffold was injected into a damaged brain, the scarring was significantly reduced “to half that of a stab (control) injury” and new cells had grown by the seventh day, according to a study published in journal ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering.
The two researchers are now exploring how the treatment can be applied to other technologies, like threeD bio-printed implants, to replace damaged muscle, nerves, and bones.