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NHMRC grants recognise commercial potential of two vision-related innovations

Two vision-related innovations currently in development have received a significant financial boost as part of the Federal Government’s $15 million investment in research projects that will drive better healthcare.

A retinal implant with closed-loop, multichannel stimulation to improve visual acuity has received a $1.14 million grant towards its ongoing development, while half a million has been awarded to a new, low-energy laser that can preserve central vision and prevent complete blindness from retinitis pigmentosa.

Prof Robert Casson.

Both ventures are part of 19 innovative research projects to be funded through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Development Grant scheme.

The grants support researchers undertaking health and medical research within Australia at the proof-of-concept stage whose projects show potential for a commercial outcome within a foreseeable timeframe.

Associate Professor Hamish Meffin from the University of Melbourne received $1,141,581 for a novel retinal implant, while Professor Robert Casson from the University of Adelaide has been awarded $525,106 for his work rescuing cone photoreceptors in retinitis pigmentosa with laser-delivered photobiomodulation.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mr Greg Hunt, said the funding would support the continued development of innovative products, processes, procedures and services and contribute to better health care in the future.

“Australia continues to be at the forefront of medical research and these projects have the potential to increase not only our understanding of diseases, but to also revolutionise their treatment,” Hunt said.

“Our Government continues to provide unprecedented support to health and medical research, as we back our best and brightest researchers to transform today’s ideas into breakthrough treatments for the patients of tomorrow.”

NHMRC CEO Professor Anne Kelso said it was exciting to see these innovations making progress along the path to patient care.

“We know that commercial development of medical technologies can be challenging. These grants fill a critical gap in that pathway by supporting research teams to obtain the proof-of-concept data needed to attract a commercial partner,” she said.

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