neuroscience

Medical Research Future Fund unveils priorities

The Australian Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Innovation Priorities were launched last night in Canberra by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care, Sussan Ley.

The Innovation Priorities will provide a framework that will guide the disbursement of funds from the MRFF, and are focussed on providing additional research investment into promising drugs, treatments, preventions, medical devices, and collaborations.

Under the Medical Research Future Fund Act, the Health Minister must take these Innovation Priorities into account when making decisions relating to financial assistance provided from the MRFF.

“This is welcome news for NeuRA as these Innovation Priorities are fully aligned with the vision we have for our future,” said CEO Prof Peter Schofield. “For a number of years we have actively sought to ensure our research is not only world-class and innovative, but also translatable, so that the benefits of our research can be shared with the community.

“With our ageing population, and statistics that indicate half of all Australians are living with chronic illnesses, we can’t afford to not invest in medical research to find new ways to diagnose, treat and prevent debilitating diseases.”

The MRFF is expected to deliver more than $400 million in disbursements to researchers over the next four years, building to $1 billion per year within the decade. This funding is in addition to that allocated to the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

“This is a giant step forward, taking the MRFF from an exciting concept to a game-changing opportunity that will ultimately save lives, and save on healthcare costs in the future and drive innovation,” AAMRI President Professor Tony Cunningham said.

The unveiling of these areas of focus is another important step towards delivering life-saving and life-changing medical breakthroughs. NeuRA is currently working to achieve these goals in a number of ways. Highlights include:

Drugs and treatments

  • The CASSI trial has already identified a drug used to treat osteoporosis and cancer, can also improve cognitive deficits in people with schizophrenia.
  • The CATS trial is exploring the use of anti-inflammatories to reduce symptom severity and restore thinking skills to people with schizophrenia.

Prevention

  • NeuRA is one of 26 sites worldwide participating in the DIAN-TU-001 prevention trial. All of our participants have now completed their first year. An analysis at the end of 2017 will look at the effect of the drugs on amyloid deposits and tau levels in participants.

Medical devices

  • Back pain researchers have developed a model to predict whether a person with acute back pain is likely to go on to develop persistent back pain (lasting for longer than three months).
  • Fall researchers have created apps that assess a person’s fear of falling, their stability, how much exercise they get and their posture.

Collaborations