To develop a novel treatment for Type 1 Diabetes - Monash University ($100,000)

Type 1 diabetes can affect anyone, but is more common in people under 30 years and tends to begin in childhood. We aim to determine if a stimulating hormone reduces blood glucose in people with Type 1 diabetes will generate new lead drug development.

Researchers from Monash University have highlighted the role of a pituitary-derived hormone on receptors on skeletal muscle receptors to increase systemic glucose tolerance. This discovery describes previously unappreciated, but important mechanisms in the basic control of glucose homeostasis and positions this pathway as a potential therapeutic target for Type 1 diabetes. This research will fast-track the proposal through to clinical proof of concept and progress through to partnership with industry.

Newborn screening for Prader Willi and Angelman Syndromes: A feasibility study on 50,000 newborns - Murdoch Children's Research Institute ($100,000)

Prader-Willi syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that affects development and growth. Estimates of its incidence vary; around one in 10,000 to 20,000 children are born with the syndrome. There is no cure for the condition. Angelman syndrome is a genetic condition that is present at birth.

Researchers at Murdoch Children's Research Institute will initiate a feasibility study at the Victorian Clinical Genetics Services, partly funded by the Foundation for Prada-Willi Research. This study aims to translate cutting-edge translational research, with the developed capabilities and trained workforce to be applied to rare disorders of significant health-economic burden.

Helping people suffering from paralysis due to brain diseases such as epilepsy, Parkinson's and depression - University of Melbourne ($100,000)

Damage to our brain cells can lead to devastating impairments, such as epilepsy and Parkinson's disease. Researchers at the University of Melbourne have developed a minimally invasive technique: the Stentrode, an electrode array that can be deployed via blood vessels without opening the skull. This project will develop novel technology with potential to improve the quality of lives of millions of people with brain diseases such as epilepsy, Parkinson's disease and depression.

The project integrates efforts between a university, medical research institute, hospital and start-up company to achieve important health outcomes. It is highly multi-disciplinary, bringing together life science and medicine with biomedical engineering, physics and computing. The Stentrode has been designed to ensure translation to humans; a first-in-human trial is scheduled in 2019 to develop a means of stimulating the brain without the need for open brain surgery.

Finding a treatment for inflammatory bowel disease - St Vincent's Hospital ($100,000)

Inflammatory Bowel Disease  refers to conditions such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. More than 75,000 Australians have one of these conditions. Researchers at St Vincent's Hospital have demonstrated through a randomised controlled trial that more than half of patients with active ulcerative colitis who are resistant to drug therapy, respond to changing the gut microbiota by using faecal microbiota transplantation. This study will determine the efficacy of faecal microbiota transplantation for both inducing remission and maintenance for active Inflammatory Bowel Disease. This is the first prospective study to evaluate faecal microbiota transplantation efficacy in Crohn's disease and maintenance treatment in Inflammatory Bowel Disease and has the potential to revolutionise treatment options in this area.

Developing new treatments to target tumours - The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research ($100,000)

Novel cancer cell treatment includes using antibodies to kill cancer cells. Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Researchers have developed a antibody that can activate programmed cell death in cancer cells. By working in partnership with a Victorian biotechnology company Patrys, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research will progress current research programs to develop novel therapeutics for cancer and potentially other diseases to circumvent prosurvival pathways found in almost all cancer cells. This project will couple two antibodies to enhance killing of cancer cells.

Detecting cognitive abnormalities to identify early Alzheimer's Disease -The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health ($100,000)

To reduce the social and economic burdens of Alzheimer's disease is the availability of sensitive cognitive tools for detecting early abnormalities. Researchers require neuroimaging techniques to find candidates for clinical trials. The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, have designed a web-based task  that assesses individuals' ability to learn new information. This involves learning a large set of Chinese characters over 6 days. Pilot data shows learning rates are substantially reduced in cognitively normal older adults with abnormal Alzheimer's pathology.  Researchers aim to use this pilot study on other large Alzheimer's cohorts, to determine task efficacy for pre-screening candidates for clinical trials.

Better treatment of metabolic and heart diseases - Deakin University ($99,721)

Deakin University will aim to develop new drugs that mimic the beneficial effects of exercise to treat obesity, diabetes and heart disease. In partnership with Imitex Pty Ltd, to deliver a new class of drug ready for commercialisation that will have beneficial effects on metabolism and prevent the gradual decline to heart failure in obesity and type 2 diabetes, which remains one of the biggest causes of morbidity and mortality in these patients.

Researchers have recently published proof-of-concept studies detailing a drug approach to mimic aspects of exercise that enhance muscle metabolism and heart function in obesity. This is highly significant as there are no drugs that target these aspects of metabolic disease.

Assessment of language development and speech discrimination in infants with hearing loss - The Bionics Institute of Australia ($92,836)

Hearing loss in infants can lead to language development and speech delay. Delays in effective treatment of deafness in infants lead to severe detriment in language development with lifelong impact. The Bionics Institute of Australia aim to transform the clinical management of infants born with a hearing loss so that optimal language development can be obtained.

Researchers  are currently developing an infant-friendly brain imaging technique using functional near-infrared spectroscopy to assess the hearing level of an infant, and to evaluate whether the infant's brain is able to distinguish different speech sounds and evaluate language development stage. Verifying a hearing device is enabling different speech sounds to be heard and distinguished by an infant is crucial for optimising their access to sound at the earliest age possible.

Improving sleep for people with diabetes using sleep health assessment technology - Deakin University ($100,000)

Sleep disorders frequently co-occur with diabetes and are associated with poor glucose control, but treatment is often overlooked. Somfit is the world's first wearable device to assess sleep health to international clinical standards. This technology, developed over decades by Compumedics Limited, and in collaboration with Deakin University, enables improved access to quality sleep healthcare.

Researchers at Deakin University will develop and test a technology-enabled sleep health intervention for people with diabetes using Somfit technology. The researchers will test effects on key health outcomes for patients with diabetes. We anticipate significant improvements in sleep quality, waist circumference, blood glucose, insulin resistance, quality of life, diet and physical activity in the intervention group.

Enhanced diagnostics for sexually transmitted infections - The Royal Women's Hospital ($100,000)

The current treatment of sexually transmitted infections has led to increasing antibiotic resistance and reduced treatment effectiveness. The development of better diagnostics in this project will allow antimicrobial resistance-guided therapy to be routinely used in patient management. A pioneering collaboration between The Royal Women's Hospital, SpeeDx and Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, resulted in striking increases in cure rates.

Researchers aim to develop innovative diagnostic tests to develop a rapid increase in rates of sexually transmitted infections in the community has occurred in a background of escalating antibiotic resistance. This project identifies unmet needs in testing for sexually transmitted infections with a focus on detection of antibiotic resistance.

A new therapeutic strategy to treat Type 2 Diabetes - St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research ($98,798)

This proposal will accelerate development of small-molecule therapeutics for type 2 diabetes.  Type 2 diabetes affects more than 415 million people globally resulting in high blood glucose levels that lead to heat and blood vessel disease, and damage to nerves, kidneys and eyes.

St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research, in collaboration with Monash University, have pioneered an approach to reduce blood glucose and to stimulate uptake into skeletal muscle. These breakthroughs allow us to identify areas important for drug action. The goal is to exploit recent advances in our understanding of the cellular mechanisms involved in diabetes to uncover new drug targets and treatment strategies.

Minimally invasive brain-controlled communication to assist suffers of Motor Neuron Disease - University of Melbourne ($100,000)

Motor Neuron Disease is a progressive condition with an average life expectancy of 2.5 years after diagnosis, that drastically affects the quality of life of people with the condition. There is no known cure. Fortunately, for many Motor Neuron Disease patients, the portion of the brain responsible for movement remains intact and it is now possible to extract and utilise brain signals to control assistive devices. Current methods are surgically invasive have not progressed to clinical application. Our technology is the only existing method of extracting neural information without the need for brain surgery.

A team at Melbourne University have developed a minimally invasive brain machine called the Stentrode that could return independence to people with Motor Neuron Disease through direct brain-control of assistive technologies for in-home use. This project will develop the software that is required for the first in human trial of the Stentrode at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in Melbourne. This work could return the ability of Motor Neuron Disease sufferers to speak.

Treatment for refractory absence epilepsy - Alfred Health ($100,000)

It is estimated that there are 650 to 1000 patients with refractory absence epilepsy (uncontrolled epilepsy) in Australia. Researchers at Alfred Health is developing a novel treatment of refractory absence epilepsy. The current research proposal is to perform a study at the Alfred Hospital to evaluate the safety, pharmacokinetics, and efficacy of multiple oral doses in patients with refractory absence epilepsy. The data from this study will support the design of the next phase of studies that could lead to the approval of a key drug for the significant unmet health need of refractory absence epilepsy.

Treatment of Triple Negative Breast Cancer - LaTrobe University ($100,000)

Breast cancer affects one in nine Australian women. Triple Negative Breast Cancer is an aggressive and poorly understood form of the disease. A widespread and collaborative study between AstraZeneca/MedImmune Limited, La Trobe University, the Hudson Institute and Peninsula and South East Oncology will test the safety, efficacy and immune activating capacity of a drug in Triple Negative Breast Cancer patients, with the fast tracking clinical trials using this immunotherapy at multiple Victorian cancer centres. The team of researchers has now demonstrated that Intratumoral injection dramatically reduces metastatic spread of cancer.

Preventing acquired hearing loss - Monash University ($100,000)

Sensory hair cells of the inner ear (cochlea) are essential for hearing and cannot regenerate if damaged due to age or injury. Hair cell death and severe hearing loss is commonly associated with recreational or occupational noise over-exposure; surgery (particularly cochlear implant surgery); cancer treatment; and antibiotic use. Researchers at Monash University are developing new treatments that protect hair cells aim to transform clinical practice, reduce the damaging effects of noise trauma, and improve the quality of life in ageing populations. A protease present in the cochlea, that is responsible for hair cell death and hearing deterioration following trauma, has been identified. We anticipate that a drug that blocks its function will preserve hearing.

3D printing into the reality of surgery: an approach for regenerating joint cartilage - St Vincent's Hospital ($100,000)

Cartilage damage in joints causes substantial pain and loss of function. In 2016, 100,000 Australians received joint replacements. Solving the problem of cartilage regeneration will unlock our ability to transfer the potential advantages of in-situ tissue formation as a surgical tool.  Researchers at St Vincent's Hospital propose that in situ surgical 3D bio-printing of a patient's own stem cells can generate long-lasting articular cartilage to successfully treat joint injuries. The specific aims of this proposal is to create, in the lab, a functional Osteochondral Unit via a cutting-edge combination of 3D bioprinting technologies. The proposed body of work  addresses the key components needed for success, including a focus on achieving successful adhesion (lateral integration) of the newly grown cartilage with its native counterpart, and on creating both bone and cartilage within the canvas of a patient's own, living body.

A novel approach to treating advanced prostate cancer - Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre ($100,000)

Prostate cancer is a lethal disease killing approximately 3500 Australian men every year. This research project has the potential to bring a new therapy into clinical trial for Victorian men with advanced metastatic prostate cancer. It will also involve training of PhD students and Research Fellows based in Victoria and therefore increase the overall expertise and research capacity in Victoria.

This research will give Victoria a leadership edge in performing first-in-human studies of a novel therapeutic approach, combined with increased expertise in research capability.  The results from this project, will form the basis of a clinical trial application to test this therapy with patients across hospitals affiliated with Monash University and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

A treatment option for alcohol use disorder - Florey Institute of Neuroscience & Mental Health ($99,035)

In Australia, the health burden of substance use disorders is estimated at approximately $45 billion and in the absence of new strategies, this figure will increase. We propose a program of trials to re-purposing existing medications into addiction therapies. An existing medication for the treatment of sleep disorders, has the potential to be used for the treatment of alcohol use disorder. Preclinical data from the laboratory suggest that that this drug will also show efficacy in addiction. Human trials using existing client bases will occur at St Vincent's Hospital.

Personalised implant innovation - University of Melbourne ($100,000)

Orthopaedic and maxillofacial implants are used for conditions such as cranio-facial deformities, cancer, arthritis and trauma. With the advent of 3D printing, hospitals are trialling custom or bespoke implants as the new standard of care. Australia leads in custom implants research and development with the success of several world-first surgeries (for example the personalised jaw prosthesis). This project will contribute to the development of new regulatory framework, implant registry and vital technologies to ensure safe and successful treatment outcome for patients.

Artificial Intelligence system for skin cancer detection and diagnosis - Monash University ($100,000)

Skin cancer is the most prevalent and costly cancer to the Australian health system. Developed by Monash University and MoleMap, an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm has shown diagnostic accuracy. This has not been tested in the clinical setting. The aim of this project is to compare the diagnostic accuracy of an AI system developed by MoleMap to that of specialist dermatologists in the clinical setting.

We propose a pilot trial in which all lesions of concern are photographed and initially dermatologists are blinded to AI diagnosis.  Following this dermatologists will be provided with the AI diagnosis prior to making a decision on management.  This research aims to improve diagnostic accuracy of benign to malignant appropriate choice of biopsy technique, cost to patients and healthcare system.

New gene therapies for the failing heart - Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute ($97,500)

Gene therapy for heart failure has already entered the clinic and is safe and well tolerated. For this to progress further and be available to more patients we need to target genes which can improve function of the failing heart. This project would represent the first development of a novel gene therapy which specifically targets the heart and can be manufactured at amounts for clinical delivery.

The development of heart muscle cell-specific therapies represents a novel and innovative approach. Long-term, we aim to develop a safe, effective treatment for heart failure with an aim to improve heart function and quality of life for heart failure patients. This would have significant implications for the quality of life for heart failure patients in Victoria and Australia-wide.

Fighting drug resistant bacteria on medical devices - University of Melbourne ($100,000)

Infections cause medical device failures and delay wound healing, costing billions of dollars and adversely affecting millions of patients. Antimicrobial resistance is an increasing  threat to global public health. With antibiotic resistance increasing, new antimicrobial materials are urgently needed. Inorganic nanomaterials are an attractive alternative to antibiotic drugs as they can attack microbes via multiple mechanisms, limiting their ability to develop resistance.

The University of Melbourne will utilise recent discoveries showing the potential of selenium-based nanomaterials with tuneable antibacterial properties against bacteria, and much lower toxicity than the commonly used silver nanoparticles. This project will accelerate the use of antimicrobial nanomaterials to be applied to a wide range of medical devices and implants, leading to reduced rates of device-associated infections and improved healing of chronic wounds.

Blockchain encryption technology to secure patient medical records - RMIT University ($99,611)

Existing medical and clinical health applications use data protection to ensure privacy and medical record security. It has been proposed that the introduction of Blockchain technology within the applications can substantially reduce operational costs whilst improving security of the applications. RMIT and DB Results Pty Ltd, jointly developed Blockchain enabled security and protection mechanisms to facilitate the secure transmission and sharing of health data.

New curative therapies to treat cancer - Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre ($100,000)

There are over 200 types of cancer and most areas of the body can be affected. There is an urgent need for new curative therapies. Researchers at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre have identified a new biological pathway that may cause cancer growth and development, that could be targeted for new therapies.

Artificial intelligence to personalise digital delivery of mental health therapy - University of Melbourne ($96,747)

This proposal combines social networking and therapeutic approaches to support youth mental health. Researchers at the University of Melbourne are using artificial intelligence to predict mental ill health and deliver tailored therapeutic support to smartphones. The project aims to assist young people with mental health issues using data analytics tailored to individual circumstances.

Our youth mental health system involves resource-limited human therapists driving therapy delivery on a small scale. Using our technology, psychology research and development team, we plan connect to smartphone sensors to gain psychological insights and tailor support to young people via online platforms when and where they need it.

Prostmate - a clinical support application for prostate cancer sufferers - Australian Prostate Cancer Research ($100,000)

Prostate cancer affects millions of men all over the world. Evidence indicates that men want to be able to get on with their lives without having to travel long distances to visit specialist Cancer Centres for the management and treatment of their disease. Prostmate is an online clinical support program for anyone affected by prostate cancer.

Renewal of the Prostmate application will enable improved patient functionality to support rural and remote patients. We will facilitate the provision of specialist advice and education enabling patients the opportunity to be more inform and empower in their healthcare. Personalised applications that manage, remind and monitor an individual's adherence to a treatment plan greatly increases the efficacy of the treatment. This improves the health of the individual, reduces diagnostic and medical appointment time and builds a patients' confidence in their health support services.

Brain imaging for predicting post-stroke epilepsy - Alfred Health ($100,000)

Ten percent of patients develop epilepsy after a stroke. Researchers at  Alfred Health will investigate whether brain glutamate levels measured by magnetic resonance imaging can be used to predict epilepsy in stroke survivors. There is no reliable biomarker to identify those at risk. Glutamate is a chemical in the brain which becomes elevated after stroke. It has a significant role in initiating and sustaining seizures. Traditionally measuring brain glutamate requires biopsy which is invasive.

The advent of ultra-high-field magnetic resonance imaging allows mapping whole brain glutamate non-invasively using novel analysis method. Researchers will aim to optimise monitoring of stroke survivors and selection of at risk patients for clinical trials with medications that target the glutamate system to prevent epilepsy.

Development of hydrogel based intravaginal drug delivery device - Burnet Institute ($100,000)

Cervicovaginal inflammation is recognised as a major risk factor for sexually transmitted infections in women. Bacterial vaginosis is a major driver of cervicovaginal inflammation and results from imbalance in the normal vaginal bacterial microbiota, where healthy bacteria, consisting mainly of Lactobacillus species, is outcompeted by harmful bacteria. Bacterial vaginosis is also associated with adverse sexual and reproductive health outcomes including preterm delivery and miscarriage, low birth weight in infants and pelvic inflammatory disease. Bacterial vaginosis is notoriously hard to treat often requiring multiple courses of antibiotics and having a very high re-occurrence (40-60%).

The Burnett will focused on developing a technology that can be used to promote a healthy vaginal microbiota, reduce cervicovaginal inflammation potentially leading to a reduction of recurrence of bacterial vaginosis as well as reduce the risk of infection from sexually transmitted infections. Using the established hydrogel material technology, we propose to develop an intravaginal drug delivery device capable of altering and ultimately maintaining the healthy vaginal microbiome, to promote significant health benefits, and to prevent and treat sexually transmitted infections.

New approaches to detect drug resistant superbugs - Monash University ($92,500)

With the emergence of drug resistant 'superbugs' researchers aim to fight against arguably the greatest threat to human health in the 21st century. Resistance to antimicrobial drugs is a key issue in medicine with the rise of so-called 'superbugs'. Researchers at Monash University will use novel approaches to detect antimicrobial resistant markers and explore the potential for rapid detection.

This will lead to improved use of existing antimicrobials through timely selection of effective treatments, reducing mortality and morbidity. The expected outcomes of this project will lead to a better understanding of the molecular basis of drug resistant 'superbugs', a critical step in health disease and prevention strategies.

Improving mental health patients with chronic kidney disease - St Vincent's Hospital ($81,805)

The progressive loss of kidney function over time leading to end-stage chronic kidney disease is a severe and debilitating health problem, with the number of Australians with chronic kidney disease is steadily increasing. Aside from the physical effects, chronic kidney disease patients experience high rates of comorbid depression and anxiety. These mental health issues have an adverse impact upon treatment adherence, quality of life, social connectedness and health care costs.

The Optimal Health Program is a self-management program that aims to address the mental health and wellbeing of individuals. Researchers at St Vincent's Hospital have developed and refined a version of the program into the Kidney Optimal Health Program, specifically adapted for individuals with chronic kidney disease.