$12m for Otago researchers

A smart new approach to delivering drugs within the brain is one of six University of Otago research projects that have just been boosted by $12 million from the Government's Endeavour Fund.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) fund invests in science that is designed to help New Zealand economically, environmentally and socially over the next 10 years.

Associate Prof John Reynolds, of anatomy, received $4,859,256 over four years for research focusing on ''targeting drug delivery within the brain''.

Prof Reynolds is one of three Otago principal researchers who received larger programme grants, and a further three researchers received funding through the fund's Smart Ideas category.

His collaborative research programme aimed to ''stimulate a high-profit, technology-based medical device and consumables industry'' in New Zealand for the treatment of brain disorders, Prof Reynolds said.

The new approach aimed to incorporate a delivery system for brain chemicals and a controller to manage timing and dose.

The smart new non-invasive drug delivery approach would ''revolutionise the treatment of disorders with underlying neurochemical imbalances'', he said.

Prof Greg Cook, of microbiology and immunology, received a $1,681,443 programme grant (three years) to develop ''next-generation sanitisers for the control of bovine mastitis in the dairy industry''.

And Dr Nevil Pierse, of the university's Wellington campus, received a $2,537,514 grant (five years) for a project focusing on''ending homelessness in New Zealand: housing first''.

Dr Andrew Clarkson, of anatomy, received a $1 million Smart Idea grant over three years.

He was working with a team of researchers who would use a smart approach to develop and test potential drugs that held ''great promise'' to help with stroke recovery, he said.

Prof Warwick Duncan, of oral sciences, received a $999,8004 grant over three years to further develop ''Silverbone'', a ''unique antibacterial biomaterial'' for use in bone graft surgery.

Prof Duncan leads a collaborative team involving researchers from the School of Dentistry, the Otago chemistry department and Molteno Ophthalmic Ltd.

The project combined ''clever nanoscience'', a detailed understanding of biomaterials, a local company that had been producing world-class bone grafting products for many years, and specialist dental practitioners who wanted better products for their patients.

Dr Eng Tan, of chemistry, received $933,037 over three years for research involving ''smart drug delivery through skin'', which aimed to ''revolutionise the treatment of strawberry birthmarks'' and other related disfiguring conditions.

john.gibb@odt.co.nz

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