New nasal spray hope to treat dementia
Two of Tim Morgan's grandparents had Alzheimer's disease, which motivated him to invent a nasal spray that makes it easier for people to take higher doses of dementia medication.
Now he's won a half-million-dollar federal government grant to help commercialise the spray, which has been shown to reduce the risk of death by 10 to 30 per cent.
Before Dr Morgan's breakthrough, the only validated dementia drug was delivered either by a capsule or patch.
"The difficulty with the patch is it irritates the skin and it frustrates the patients, and the oral therapy is prone to nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea," Dr Morgan (pictured), founder of Lachesis Biosciences, told The Daily Telegraph.
"The nasal spray is aiming to improve the tolerability of the drug in order to allow a greater proportion of patients to reach optimal and higher doses."
Globally about 10 per cent of the over-65 population has dementia, including nearly half a million Australians.
"I decided to try to improve the therapy because my grandparents went off the existing therapies because of the tolerability issues," Dr Morgan, a pharmacist by training, said. "I saw an avenue to improve that."
The technology is Australian-owned and Australian-funded.
Dr Morgan said the $438,000 grant would speed up Lachesis' work and make it easier to convince new investors to come on board. The money will fund a usability study to make sure dementia sufferers and carers use the spray correctly and confirm that the right amount of medication is delivered.
Industry Minister Karen Andrews said Dr Morgan's product was a "perfect example" of what the government wanted to back.
"It will make a real difference for people in our community suffering from dementia, their families and carers, and by commercialising it we can grow the economy and create new jobs."
It is the second time Dr Morgan has received a federal government grant. The first was 20 years ago for a business named Acrux Limited, which developed spray-on delivery for a menopause treatment and other drugs.
"It's good to see that policy initiative has lasted the course," Dr Morgan said.
Lachesis is one of eight companies to receive a grant in a $3 million round of funding.
Others include Hermetia Biosystems, which got $500,000 for its sustainably produced protein-rich livestock feed made from food-waste using insects, and Cardiovascular Technology Services, which received $100,000 to commercialise a device to enable doctors to implant permanent pacemakers more safely and accurately.
More than 400 businesses have received $200 million in accelerated commercialisation grants since 2014.