Image: Associate Professor Jack Richards
Broad-ranging Burnet Institute research into hepatitis C will benefit from National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grants valued at more than AUD$1.9 million.
Associate Professor Jack Richards is the Chief Investigator of an NHMRC Development Grant awarded AUD$781,353 for the development of a molecular point-of-care test for hepatitis C to increase uptake of curative antiviral treatments.
“It’s a finger prick test that could provide an accurate indication of hepatitis C infection in maybe 30 minutes, and it would help people in high-risk groups, predominantly people who inject drugs, who typically don’t engage or have trouble engaging in health care,” Associate Professor Richards said.
“There’s about 150,000 people in Australia with hep C, and probably 21 million globally who could benefit from new drugs to cure hep C, if only they were aware of their infection.
“We think this could be a game-changer for hep C treatment – much cheaper than existing point-of-care tests and made available where they could be most useful, GP clinics, a needle exchange program, safe injecting facility, sexual health clinic or prison.”
Burnet’s Associate Professor David Anderson, Professor Margaret Hellard, Associate Professor Joe Doyle and Professor Heidi Drummer are co-investigators on the study along with Bill Hopper from Axxin, and Associate Professor Ben Cowie, Head of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Viral Hepatitis.
Professor Mark Stoové, Burnet Head of Public Health, is among the Chief Investigators on a University of New South Wales study National Prisons hepatitis C education: improving health literacy to enhance treatment uptake awarded NHMRC Partnership Project funding worth AUD$1,158,722.
Burnet’s Co-Program Director, Professor Caroline Homer AO is a Chief Investigator on an NHMRC Partnership Project Advancing Women in Healthcare Leadership valued at AUD$752,694 awarded to Monash University.