Backing world-leading research into COVID-19 treatments

Published: 23 December 2021

The Victorian Government is backing research into new coronavirus treatments, including a nasal spray medication that envelops the virus and reduces household transmission.

Victorian research institutes will receive $13.3 million in grants for seven research projects examining a range of coronavirus treatment options.

University of Melbourne and Monash University have received $4.2 million to establish a six-month clinical trial, developed in collaboration with Oxford University, of a heparin-based nasal spray to be used in households where a person has coronavirus.

The second most widely used drug in the world and primarily prescribed as a blood-thinner to treat or prevent blood clots, heparin forms the base of the nasal spray treatment which is already being hailed as a success for its easy administration, stability at room temperature and global availability.

The IntraNasal HEpaRin Trial (INHERIT) will be led by the Northern Hospital, using the Covid (Oximetry) Monitoring and Early Treatment (COMET) platform that has enabled researchers to access and treat patients within 24 hours of their diagnosis, speeding up treatment and providing remote patient monitoring through portable oximeter devices that measure oxygen levels in blood.

Other research projects receiving funding include $2 million for a Walter and Eliza Hall Institute trial of antiviral cocktails for immunocompromised patients unable to receive coronavirus vaccines, and $1.8 million for a Burnet Institute study on a suite of biological medications that could neutralise and kill virus-infected cells.

In the past year, the Victorian Government has invested more than $590 million in medical research – including up to $400 million for a new Australian Institute for Infectious Disease to lead the fight against future pandemics. Clinical trials held in Victoria contribute more than $300 million annually to the state’s economy.

In December 2021, Victorian scientists and manufacturers reached a major milestone, unveiling Australia’s first mRNA COVID-19 vaccine candidate after a research period of just five months. Clinical trials will commence in early 2022.

Find out more about COVID-19 medical research funding.