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University of Queensland researchers are developing a radical vaccine technology which has the potential to revolutionise vaccine development, reduce production costs and increase availability.
The technology could enable the development of low-cost, synthetic vaccines for diseases such as HIV and Golden Staph, offering enormous benefit to communities particularly in developing nations, according to the technology's developer, Dr Joanne Blanchfield.
Dr Blanchfield was one of 11 researchers awarded a share of $40,000 prize money in the 2008 Trailblazer ideas competition run by UniQuest, UQ's main commercialisation company.
With sponsorship from Davies Collison Cave Patent Attorneys, Southern Cross Venture Partners, and Fisher Adams Kelly Patent Attorneys, the competition attracted a high calibre of researchers whose ideas had commercial potential, said UniQuest Managing Director, David Henderson.
"Now in its sixth year, Trailblazer has become a successful vehicle for encouraging and rewarding innovative ideas, technologies and research projects as well as giving researchers some experience with pitching their ideas to potential partners," said Mr Henderson.
"As with previous Trailblazer competitions, we're hoping to work with the winners to commercialise their work," he said.
• Mr Esteban Marcellin, Australian Institute for Bioengineering & Nanotechnology: Proposed a system to efficiently mass-produce a safer form of Hyaluronic Acid (HA) - a biopolymer used in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industry. At present HA for commercial use is extracted from animal tissue, such as roosters' combs.
• Dr Paul Masci, Health Sciences Faculty: Presented a novel process for producing a clotting agent, from Brown snake venom, for use in biochemical testing.
• Dr Cedryck Vaquette, Australian Institute for Bioengineering & Nanotechnology: Proposed an innovative, synthetic implant for repairing the meniscus (or cartilage pads) in our knees. Unlike current alternatives, the implant will structurally and functionally mimic the meniscus with the strength to bear normal physiological stresses.
• Dr Joanne Blanchfield, Biological & Chemical Sciences Faculty: is developing a new design of synthetic vaccine constructs using conjugated dendrimers as rigid antigen presenting scaffolds.
• Ms Tarnya Cox, Natural Resources Agriculture and Veterinary Science Faculty: Is investigating the use of a cheap, safe and environmentally-friendly repellent for agricultural pests, such as goats and pigs, based on the faeces or urine of large predators such as tigers.
• Ms Therese Seldon, Biological & Chemical Sciences Faculty: Is developing a diagnostic test which would enable clinicians to monitor transplant patients for the early signs of organ rejection.
• Dr Helen Stallman, Social and Behavioural Sciences Faculty: To complement the renowned Triple P parenting program, Helen has developed a program to support families following divorce.
Open Category - Highly Commended
• Dr Michael Doran, Australian Institute for Bioengineering & Nanotechnology: Is combining nanotechnology and the unique adult stem cell population, mesenchymal stem cells, to create a tissue bandage to repair damaged heart muscle.
• Dr Laurence Rossato, Sustainable Minerals Institute: Has invented an efficient process for detoxifying land and water contaminated with heavy metals.
Student Category - Highly Commended
• Mr Yasharth Krishna, Business, Economics and Law Faculty: Developer of the Five Faces Media Display System, which allows small businesses to setup a digital advertising system with just a computer and an internet connection.
• Ms Alison Mandrusiak, Health Sciences Faculty: Has designed the FitKit Fitness Challenge, an "exercise program in a bag", for treating children with cystic fibrosis.
UniQuest is widely recognised as one of Australia's largest and most successful university commercialisation groups. Established by The University of Queensland in 1984, UniQuest fosters links between the University - with its valuable emerging technologies, expertise and facilities - and the financial and entrepreneurial resources of industry, business and government. For more information about UniQuest, please visit www.uniquest.com.au.
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