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Doherty Clinical Trials sets up in Melbourne for Human challenge studies

Posted by on 27 March 2024
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The University of Melbourne in Australia has launched Doherty Clinical Trials, a not-for-profit drug research facility for early phase clinical trials.

The center – a registered charity and subsidiary of the university – will specialize in human challenge trials – early phase programs that test the effectiveness of vaccines and therapeutics for infectious diseases, with the aim of speeding up the development.

In human challenge trials healthy participants are given an infectious agent in a controlled environment to test the drug or vaccine under development.

In a press statement Doherty Clinical Trials, professor Sharon Lewin, framed the new organization as a positive move for infectious disease research in Australia.

“The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need to accelerate how new vaccines and treatments are developed. This will help us all to get lifesaving medicines more rapidly in future pandemics,” she said.

“While human challenge trials have been used to develop new medicines and vaccines globally for decades, our purpose-built facility is the first of its kind in the southern Hemisphere and will build capabilities right here in Victoria enabling rapid research translation.”

This optimism was echoed by James McCarthy, Doherty Clinical Trials’ chief medical officer, who suggested the organization will help researchers better identify projects most likely to succeed.

“With these type of studies, vital information about the efficacy of vaccines and potential treatments can be received very quickly and at a significantly lower cost.

“As most drugs and vaccines fail along the clinical development pathway, it is advantageous to rapidly determine if development of a candidate vaccine or treatment should continue, or if the researchers should pivot to an alternative candidate with a higher chance of success.”

The organization – which will be based at the Australian Institute for Infectious Disease (AIID) in Melbourne – will replace a 25-bed facility located in the easy of the city. The new organization was set up thanks to financial contributions from the Victorian State Government as well as funding via the Doherty Institute.

Several trials are already scheduled including projects focused on influenza, Streptococcus pyogenes, gonorrhea and malaria according to the organization.


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