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Funding backs life-changing projects

21 March 2019

Joint media release with the Minister for Health

Three promising new treatments – one for cystic fibrosis, the second offering relief for women who have survived cancer, and the third to treat fibrosis – have been selected for commercial development assistance through a venture capital fund backed by the Liberal National Government.

The $500 million Biomedical Translation Fund (BTF) consists of equal parts Commonwealth and business funding and is operated by three private sector fund managers who select promising Australian biomedical ideas for BTF support.

One of the managers, Brandon Capital Partners, through its Medical Research Commercialisation Fund BTF, has allocated $20 million from the BTF to fund clinical trials and product development of Respirion Pharmaceuticals’ novel antibiotic adjuvant. 

Respirion’s therapy is an inhaled version of the existing antibiotic to treat cystic fibrosis, combined with an agent which boosts the effect of the antibiotic. The cystic fibrosis bacteria, pseudomonas aeruginosa, exists in protected biofilms which makes infection very difficult to eradicate. Respirion’s novel formulation helps to break down the biofilms, which will improve the efficacy of the antibiotic.

This therapy represents a powerful new tool to improve treatment of infection, and also a cystic fibrosis patients’ quality and duration of life. Cystic fibrosis causes increased inflammation and infection in the lungs and ultimately leads to respiratory failure.

Another of the three fund managers, OneVentures, has allocated $4 million from the BTF towards clinical trials and development of a therapeutic device that could relieve the suffering of millions of women.

Madorra Pty Ltd’s device treats problems associated with vulval and vaginal atrophy. The initial target group will be women who have survived cancer where hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is not a viable treatment option. Ultimately, the non-hormonal, non-invasive treatment will be aimed at post-menopausal women as a substitute to HRT, which has become less popular due to health concerns.

OneVentures has, to date, also invested $17.2 million from the BTF for development of a drug to treat fibrosis. Fibrosis is a disease with a high morbidity rate which affects many organs, for which there is no effective treatment. It particularly affects the lungs, kidneys and liver.

Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, said the Biomedical Translation Fund has both social and economic benefits.

“The BTF combines Government and private support with industry expertise in choosing promising commercial ventures for development,” Minister Hunt said.

“These projects will potentially improve the quality of life not only for affected Australians, but for millions of people worldwide.” 

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said the Biomedical Translation Fund provides a significant boost to Australian innovation and commercialisation.

“The BTF shows that Australia has the resources and expertise required to assist our world-leading research organisations deliver life-changing outcomes for patients through commercialising great Australian ideas,” Minister Andrews said.

“The investments of fund managers in these three innovative companies producing leading-edge technologies is a very positive signal for the Australian innovation system.

“As one of the Liberal National Government’s key initiatives, the Biomedical Translation Fund is just one way that we are supporting small and medium businesses to take their research from the lab to the marketplace, which improves individuals’ lives.” 

The Biomedical Translation Fund is an equity co-investment venture capital program announced by the Coalition Government in the $1 billion National Innovation and Science Agenda, to further drive investment into research and develop scientific, mathematical and technical skills of the younger generation. This is part of our strategic economic plan to help create 1.25 million additional Australian jobs in the next five years.

For more information on the BTF, visit www.business.gov.au/BTF

Media contacts:

Minister Andrews' office 02 6277 7070

Minister Hunt's office 02 6277 7220