Monash University announces new anti-infectives research agreement

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Monash University has announced a collaboration with HuiKang Bio-Tech to develop a new class of anti-infectives.

The collaboration is being led by Professor Ray Norton from the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, located in Melbourne.

The collaboration will focus on the development of cell-penetrating peptides that leverage the host immune response to infection, rather than directly inhibiting or killing the infectious pathogen.

The university said the initial target is Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR TB). This is a strain of tuberculosis that cannot be treated with isoniazid and rifampin, the two antibiotics most commonly used to treat TB infection.

It said that in addition to targeting MDR TB, the technology has potential applications for a range of bacterial and viral infections that are currently drug-resistant.

Chinese company HuiKang Bio-Tech was established more than ten years ago to accelerate research into peptide drug discovery.

HuiKang Bio-Tech will provide technical assistance to Professor Norton’s lab from their team in China and commercial support from their Australian-based advisors Mike Sullivan and Paul Field, who are also working with the new Horizon 3 Biotech Fund recently established in Melbourne.  

Professor Norton said, “We are very grateful to HuiKang Bio-Tech for supporting our research into peptide drug discovery. Their expertise in this area will be invaluable to driving the research forward and we very much look forward to working together to tackle MDR TB and potentially other bacterial and viral infections.”

Professor Jianl Liu from HuiKang Bio-Tech said, “We are pleased to collaborate with a team led by such a distinguished scientist as Professor Norton and we look forward to identifying peptide drug candidates that could impact on MDR TB and other global diseases”.

Under the agreement, all intellectual property is owned by Monash University.