University of Otago, New Zealand


Te Tari Hua-Ruanuku

Chemistry Dept very successful with FRST funding

Tuesday 15 July 2008

The Chemistry dept was very successful in the latest FRST funding round:

Smart gels

Chemistry's Dr Stephen Moratti and his multidisciplinary team gained $3.5m over four years to progress their research into smart gels. The team's squid-derived wound-healing gel attracted considerable publicity last year after the "Chitodex" medical gel was patented. With properties between liquids and solids, gels can exist at the interface between the biological and mechanical, making them ideal for surgical purposes. They also have blood-clotting properties. The work has the potential to produce a niche technology for New Zealand with direct economic benefit of NZ$50m annually by 2012 and spill-over benefits of another NZ$30m.

Dr Stephen Moratti (Principal Investigator), Associate Professor Lyall Hanton, Professor James Simpson, Professor Brian Robinson, Dr John McAdam and Professor Peter Wormald (University of Adelaide).


Developing pharmaceuticals

Professor Rob Smith's team, based in Chemistry, were awarded $1.8m over three years for their project developing pharmaceuticals with targeted bioactive small molecules for overcoming cellular malfunction in human disorders and disease. The team aims to extend the smart design chemistry used in producing mitoQ, which is licensed to the team's partner, Antipodean Pharmaceuticals. Antipodean has taken mitoQ to Phase II clinical trials and has strong indications of effectiveness for liver disease. This represents a potential market in excess of US$100m annually.

Professor Rob Smith (Principal Investigator), Dr David Larsen, Professor Mike Dragunow (University of Auckland), Michelle Lockhart (Antipodean Pharmaceuticals) and Dr Kenneth Taylor (Antipodean Pharmaceuticals).


Intelligent delivery systems for brain chemicals

A team led by Dr John Reynolds of Anatomy and Structural Biology and Associate Professor Brian Hyland of Physiology has gained $1.1m over three years for its research into diagnosis of disease and delivery of brain chemicals. The vision is for technology that delivers bioactive chemicals to the brain in a manner that mimics natural patterns of release. The approach aims to provide optimized treatment for particular disorders of the central nervous system, such as Parkinson's Disease.

 Dr John Reynolds (Principal Investigator), Associate Professor Brian Hyland,  Dr Eng Tan, Dr Guy Jameson and Prof Sally Brooker.