Life Sciences Queensland (LSQ) member Griffith University is on the verge of developing a breakthrough drug to treat human parainfluenza virus (hPIV) through its Institute for Glycomics on the Gold Coast.
The Institute is co-developing the drug technology with global healthcare enterprise China Grand Pharma’s Australian entity Grand Medical, in Australia’s largest pre-clinical university licence and co-development antiviral deal with Pharma. The goal is to produce a treatment for hPIV — a virus that causes croup in children, is a major complicating illness for immunocompromised patients, and is responsible for a large number of deaths each year in the elderly, all of which place a significant burden on the health system.
With no hPIV drug currently on the market, the Institute is working hard to fast-track its research as it progresses through the pre-clinical stage of development.
Griffith University Institute for Glycomics General Manager Dr Chris Davis said the team hopes to begin clinical trials with its pharma partner by 2023 and have the new drug to market for high-risk populations within the next six to seven years.
“We have been exploring commercialisation opportunities with China Grand Pharma for some time now and it’s fantastic that we’ve been able to partner together to co-develop this much-needed treatment, further reinforcing the effectiveness of a ‘glyco’ approach to developing new drugs,” he said.
Technology co-inventor and Director of the Institute for Glycomics Professor Mark von Itzstein AO said: “For over a decade we have built strong scientific expertise and a robust suite of potent lead molecules against hPIV. This significant co-development program with China Grand Pharma to deliver a new drug to treat hPIV represents a significant milestone for the Institute for Glycomics.”
hPIV commonly causes upper and lower respiratory illnesses in infants, young children, older adults and people with weakened immune systems, with symptoms ranging from a runny nose through to pneumonia.
Transmission occurs from one infected person to another through the air by coughing or sneezing, close personal contact by touching or shaking hands, or by touching objects or surfaces that have traces of hPIV.
LSQ Chief Executive Officer Claire Blain said the partnership between the Institute for Glycomics and China Grand Pharma highlights Queensland’s unmatched research capabilities in glycoscience.
“The Institute’s ongoing biomedical research — not only in the treatment of hPIV, but in a range of vaccines and diagnostics for diseases of global impact — is just another fine example of how the life sciences industry in Queensland is dynamic, sustainable and internationally competitive,” she said.
“We are thrilled to see the Institute lead the charge on hPIV and continue to have a positive impact on human health globally.”
Through its start-of-the-art facilities, the Institute is also working on several other next-generation treatments including for COVID-19, malaria, Ross River virus and strep throat, as well as a potential new cure for gonorrhoea in women.