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Technologies for Therapies and Prevention

Antifungal drug development – combating drug (azole) resistance

Technology Type: Drug candidate

Synopsis: Worldwide, fungi cause more deaths than either tuberculosis or malaria. Critically ill hospitalised patients, those undergoing surgery and patients with leukaemia or organ transplants, are at increased risk of invasive fungal infections (IFIs). Invasive candida infection is one of the most common IFI. In the critically ill and in patients with acute leukaemia, it has a mortality of 20-40%. The effectiveness of azole drugs, such as fluconazole and voriconazole, is increasingly limited by azole-resistance. The main cause of azole-resistance in Candida species is drug efflux, a mechanism that actively pumps the drug out of the fungus so that it cannot be effective. There are currently no drugs that combat this resistance mechanism. Our future drug candidate will overcome efflux-mediated azole resistance to reduce mortality and hospitalisation costs associated with vulnerable immuno-compromised patient populations.

Department: Oral Sciences, Dunedin Campus WIHI WIHI

Partners: Walter + Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI) in Australia is our partner for this and another antifungal drug development of yet unknown mechanism of action (contact: Dr Kurt Lackovic). 

Complimentary Technology Available: Combating resistance – discovery tool for new drenches protecting crop and stock (Word; 2.1 MB)

Commercial Opportunity: Investment or other partnership to allow full screen and hit-to-lead optimisation for a pump inhibitor and development of the anitfungals of unknown mechanism.

Detailed Specifications: Fact Sheet (pdf; 1.8 MB)

Key Contact: Alex Tickle

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A new class of drugs to treat HIV - frameshift modulator

Technology Type: Drug candidate

Synopsis: Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). AIDS related illnesses are one of the leading causes of death worldwide. At least 34 million people are living with HIV. The World Health Organisation (WHO) released new treatment guidelines in June 2013, which recommend starting treatment earlier when people are still strong and well. This means that the number of people eligible for antiretroviral therapy (ART) today has increased to an estimated 26 million people worldwide; 16 million more than the number of people who have access today. Most of the currently available ARTs inhibit HIV enzymes such as protease, reverse transcriptase and integrase. HIV requires a mechanism called frameshift, which allows the ribosome to switch from making structural proteins for HIV to HIV enzyme production. This frameshift is essential for HIV’s survival.

Department: Biochemistry, Dunedin CampusWIHI

Partners: Walter + Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI) in Australia is our partner since starting high throughput screening for frameshift modulation, the new HIV drug target (contact: Dr Kurt Lackovic ).

Complimentary Technology Available: Genetic disease drug discovery – utilising frameshift to overcome stop-codon mutation (word; 100 kb)

Commercial Opportunity: License, investment or other partnership to allow hit-to-lead optimisation.

Detailed Specifications: Fact Sheet  (pdf; 700 kb)

Key Contact: Alex Tickle

ISL  Immune Solutions Limited  Needle free, oral vaccine delivery platform technology

Technology Type: Oral Vaccine Delivery Platform 

Synopsis: Immune Solutions Ltd (ISL) offers a novel oral delivery system to replace injections, aerosols, and patches. This US and internationally patented technology platform uses food-grade fatty acids in a tablet or paste to encapsulate and protect bacterial and viral vaccines and bio-actives. Significant success has been achieved in laboratory and field trials with animals. This work has focused on BCG vaccination against tuberculosis in several animal species. Additional research with viruses and bio-actives show promising results. ISL’s technology protects vaccines and medications against aggressive stomach acids and enables effective absorption in the small intestine. Due to its adaptability to include various flavours, including seasonal food preferences flavoured for wildlife, it is ideal for voluntary uptake by wild animals and birds in inaccessible regions. ISL has collaborated over past years overseas in research trials of the oral delivery technology and there is on-going interest from other parties to set up additional technical research and business relationships. 

The majority of ISL’s science pedigree is in relation to TB vaccination in wildlife. A number of animal species have been successfully vaccinated against TB and long term international relationships have been fostered in an attempt to establish the ISL oral delivery technology as a viable, cost effective vaccination solution against animal and human TB.

Partners: This technology has been developed with our partners AgResearch Limited and the Animal Health Board.
Commercial Opportunity: To out-license rights to LiporaleTM oral delivery platform technology.

Detailed specifications: Project summary (1 page PDF)

Key Contacts: Hon Pete Hodgson or Dr Tracey Smith
Immune Solutions Ltd
87 St David Street
2nd Floor, Centre for Innovation Building


VDGF (Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor) combination biologic for tissue repair

Technology type: Biologics/pharmaceutical

Synopsis: Within the globally reported 160 million wounds, 9.8 million are burns. The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that non-lethal burns may require costly and prolonged hospitalisation and frequently result in disfigurement and disability, to which scarring is a significant contributing factor. In the US, 450,000 burn related treatments are recorded of which 40,000 cases required hospitalisation (costs: US$47,875 – US$432,746). Beyond temporary improvements, there is no effective treatment available for keloids, a debilitating condition with a prevalence of up to 16% in darker skinned populations. Our protein combination of VEGF-E and an anti-inflammatory prevents excess tissue formation leading to less debilitating scars in various animal models. This is seen as a major advantage when treating burns and limiting keloid and scar formation during the healing process.

Department: Virus Research Unit, Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Dunedin Campus

Commercial Opportunity: License or sale of patent rights to a partner (ideally with access to an anti-inflammatory cytokine, such as IL-10, to combine with VEGF-E)

Detailed Specification: Fact Sheet (pdf, 632kb)

Key contact: Alex Tickle


Technology type: Probiotic

Synopsis: This project is based on the development of a probiotic for the treatment of a clinical condition known as Pouchitis. Pouchitis is nonspecific idiopathic inflammation of the ileal pouch-anal anastomosis (IPAA). IPAA’s are constructed for people who have had their large intestine surgically removed usually for ulcerative colitis. Pouchitis occurs in up to 50% of people who undergo an IPAA surgery for ulcerative colitis. About 10‐20% per cent of these people develop chronic Pouchitis (inflammation). It results in symptoms such as bloody diarrhoea, the urgent need to pass stool, incontinence and pain or discomfort while passing stool. The current treatment for Pouchitis is limited to long‐term continuous antibiotic therapy which combats the underlying bacterial infection. The Pouchitis project is a clinically led opportunity that is seeking to provide a solution to a clearly defined clinical condition.

Departments: Microbiology and Immunology, Surgical Sciences.

Commercial Opportunity: This technology is available for co-development and/or licensing activity. We are seeking to engage with potential commercial partners, to further develop this technology.

Detailed specifications: Fact sheet (157KB)

Key Contact: Dr Tracey Smith