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Author: Craig Eardley

Business support helps generate Government funding of local medical research

Seed funding from a local company has helped Hunter medical researchers to this week gain almost $4 million in additional funding for a drug trial that is already benefiting local people.

Hunter Medical Research Institute researchers received more than $3.9 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in its 2014 funding round for its drug trial that has yielded rapid treatment benefits for stroke victims. Led by Professor Mark Parsons from Hunter New England Health and the University of Newcastle, the TASTE study explores the effectiveness of clot-busting drug Tenecteplase, which is commonly used for heart attacks, over the standard stroke treatment Alteplase.

Earlier this year, the Greater Charitable Foundation awarded the TASTE study $330,000 over three years to follow on from previous funding to support this and other Stroke research. The Charitable Foundation is funded from the profits of the Greater Building Society.

HMRI Director Professor Michael Nilsson said funding from local businesses and other donors such as The Greater play an important part in both allowing research to take place and also attracting other funding.

Greater Charitable Foundation CEO Anne Long said the Foundation and The Greater were delighted to be able to kick-start important research by local researcher that will benefit the people living in the areas in which The Greater operates.

Ms Long said It isn't the first seed funding by The Greater to have an added benefit. Last year Australian company Viralytics announced it planned to use $27 million worth of global institutional investment to conduct one UK and two US clinical trials before commercialisation of its anti-cancer drug, Cavatak. The drug has been developed out of research that was initially looking at cures for the common cold by HMRI researchers. The research was kick-started with funding from The Greater almost 15 years ago.

The Greater is an inaugural supporter of HMRI. Funding of HMRI transferred to The Greater Charitable Foundation when it was established in 2011. Together the organisations have provided HMRI with more than $1.3 million.

The University of Newcastle/HMRI researchers received than $17.8 million across 17 projects in this year’s funding from the NHMRC that was announced by Prime Minister Tony Abbott. The TASTE trial project received the most funding.