RESEARCH scientist and former Ballarat woman Michelle McIntosh is a step closer to saving thousands of women during childbirth thanks to yet another generous grant for her cause.
Dr McIntosh’s team at Monash University has been busy developing an inhaled version of the drug oxytocin, which prevents excessive bleeding after childbirth.
Currently administered as an injection, a new inhaled version of the drug, which does not require refrigeration, is a big step closer to beginning human clinical trials because of a $500,000 gift from the McCall MacBain Foundation.
The international philanthropic organisation has also issued a challenge to Dr McIntosh and her team; it will donate an additional $1 million in research funding if a further $2 million can be raised from other sources.
Dr McIntosh said the $3 million total would ensure her team had the resources to take the inhaled oxytocin product into human clinical trials, required to test product safety.
“We have already shown that powdered oxytocin is more stable than the injectable form and has a comparable effect when tested in the laboratory,” she said.
“We are ready to move this vital project to clinical trials.”
Dr McIntosh has already received several grants, including a $1 million boost from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Oxytocin is an essential medicine recommended by the World Health Organisation for all women immediately after childbirth to prevent excessive bleeding.
However, effective usage of the current injection product is limited in developing countries due to the requirement for refrigeration, skilled healthcare workers and the supplies and facilities necessary for safe administration.
A cheap, inhaled version of the drug would solve these problems.
Dr McIntosh attended St Thomas More Primary School and Loreto College during her time living in Ballarat.
Director of Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Professor Bill Charman, said the project was a compelling and exciting example of smarter drug delivery addressing a major global health challenge.