Neuroscience research and development
Victoria is a leading location for neuroscience research and the development of innovative new therapies and devices. Built on world class research, outstanding infrastructure and technology platforms, and a vibrant life sciences and devices sector, the state is at the cutting edge of advances in the management of disorders of the brain and central nervous system.
Research excellence in neuroscience and mental health research
Victoria is home to a vibrant community of neuroscience research facilities conducting research into stroke, epilepsy, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, Huntington's disease, motor neuron disease, traumatic brain and spinal cord injury, depression, schizophrenia, mental illness and addiction.
- The Melbourne Brain Centre with new purpose-built facilities in the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct in Parkville and at the Austin Hospital, is home to Australia's largest brain research collaboration, comprising:
- The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health (Florey)
- Melbourne Neuroscience Institute of the University of Melbourne
- Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, focusses on clinical research into psychosis, borderline personality disorder, substance use, depression and eating disorders.
- Bionics Institute pursues world-class medical bionics research, focussed on neural prostheses for hearing, vision and detecting, predicting and suppressing abnormal neural activity in the brain.
- Monash Vision Group brings together engineering, computer scientists and medical researchers on an implanted electro-neural interface to stimulate the brain's visual cortex.
- Centre for Eye Research Australia includes basic and clinical research to improve diagnosis and treatment of major eye diseases, population based and health economics research.
- Brain Sciences Institute at Swinburne University includes specialist expertise and facilities in MEG imaging for psychological research.
Image: Melbourne Brain Centre (courtesy of Lyons Arch)
Innovative devices and medical technologies
Victoria is rapidly building a reputation for outstanding medical technologies with particular application in the neurosciences.
- SmartStent Pty Ltd's revolutionary stent-based electrode (stentrode) is a brain machine interface, implanted within a blood vessel next to the brain and capable of recording the type of neural activity, that has been shown in pre-clinical trials, to move limbs through an exoskeleton or to control bionic limbs. The new device aims to aid people with spinal cord injuries.
- Global Kinetics Corporation with researchers from the Florey has developed the Parkinson's KinetiGraph,an FDA-approved wrist worn device that automatically records the movement associated with bradykinesia and dyskinesia to assist doctors in their diagnosis and treatment of the symptoms of movement disorders, such as Parkinson's Disease.
Video: Barack Obama on Stentrode Device (via Discovery Channel)
Melbourne researchers from St Vincent's Hospital Department of Neurology, Bionics Institute and University of Melbourne have developed an implantable device to monitor epileptic seizures and assist patients to make lifestyle and treatment changes to increase their independence.
Ideal location for neurology clinical trials
Australia provides outstanding expertise and capabilities in neurology clinical trials, from first-in-human to Phase IV.
- Neuroscience Trials Australia (NTA) is a specialized contract research organization with global management expertise in all phases of clinical research and access to key opinion leaders across many therapeutic disease groups, experienced sites and clinical trial expertise.
Alzheimer's disease clinical research
Melbourne is the only site outside of North America in the Anti-Amyloid Treatment in Asymptomatic Alzheimer's study ("A4 study") which is testing whether an anti-amyloid antibody can slow memory loss caused by Alzheimer's disease (AD).
Anavex'scompound Anavex 2-73 is designed to not only relieve the symptoms of AD, but also slow its progression. It works by blocking Tau and amyloid-beta proteins, thus preventing the oxidative stress and cell death seen in the brains of people Alzheimer's disease.
Victoria has been selected as the world first site for the fast tracked Phase 2 trial due to the state's reputation in neuroscience research and the quality of its clinical data and trial infrastructure.
Collaborative research facilities and enabling infrastructure
Specialised platforms operating across Victorian and international partners are supporting research and new insights into disorders of the brain and mind.
- Melbourne neuroscientists and leading teams of medical radiation physicists and medicinal chemists are working with industry to advance MRI and PET imaging technologies and radiopharmaceutical development. Public-private partnerships have established world-class medical imaging infrastructure at the Florey Institute and a consortium of sites across Melbourne, accessible to industry and academia.
- The Melbourne Genomics Health Alliance has been established to determine whether genomic sequencing can provide faster and more accurate detection and diagnosis for patients with conditions including epilepsy and inherited neuropathies. Melbourne Genomics is part of the Global Alliance of 150 partner organisations utilising genetic advances to improve patient diagnosis and care.