Victoria’s world-leading medical researchers join fight against coronavirus

Image by pressfoto from Freepik

The Victorian Government has invested more than $14.7 million in 17 projects dedicated to medical research that will help the fight against coronavirus. 

A consortium led by leading research centre the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute has made a breakthrough on using antibodies to prevent coronavirus from infecting human cells under laboratory conditions. Although still in its early stages, the study has the potential to influence antibody-based therapies and could provide a key alternative until a successful vaccine is secured.

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute Associate Professor Wai-Hong Tham said the antibody-based therapies they are working on have shown that they could be useful in both preventing and treating COVID-19, if effective and approved in human clinical trials.

“One potential use for antibody-based therapies is to limit the spread of disease and provide treatment options to older individuals, who may not be able to mount a robust immune response to a potential vaccination,” Professor Tham said. 

Meanwhile a group based at Monash University has developed the National COVID-19 Clinical Guidelines which is being used by more than 100,000 clinicians locally and around the world. The Guidelines covers all aspects of treatment including primary and acute care as well as care in special populations such as older people, pregnant women and adolescents.

Monash University Associate Professor Julian Elliott said: “Through the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce we’ve established a truly world-class collaboration of experts who work around the clock to identify, evaluate and implement global COVID-19 research findings.”

“This means that frontline clinicians have a trusted single source of evidence-based guidance in a time of great uncertainty.” 

According to a statement from the Victorian premier other projects are being undertaken to increase the understanding of how the virus is transmitted, with investigations probing into its long-term impacts on the body. Studies are also looking into the repurposing of existing drugs for treatment, with many yielding important results and building the knowledge and clinical expertise that will help in the fight against the virus.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said: “Just as our doctors, nurses and hospital staff are vital in fighting this virus – so too are our scientists, researchers and academics.”

“We are proud to back this crucial research, helping to uncover answers both for Victorian patients and patients around the world.”

Victoria is home to 12 independent medical research institutes that employ more than 4,800 people. The state’s wider medical research sector supports more than 30,000 jobs across institutes, universities and industry. In addition to the funds assigned to coronavirus-related research in the past six months, the Government has allocated more than $47 million to the advancement of other life-saving medical research.