6 August 2020
A novel Q Fever vaccine is progressing to pre-clinical trials following a $1.87 million investment from the Department of Health into DMTC’s national Medical Countermeasures (MCM) Initiative.
DMTC will work with research and industry partners to manage the staged development of a new Q fever vaccine, including the Australian Rickettsial Reference Laboratory, a WHO collaborative laboratory in Geelong.
The investment from the Department of Health to accelerate development and enable the project to proceed to the next critical decision point (known as the Preclinical Proof of Concept, or Stage Gate 2) was announced today (5 August) by the Federal Minister for Regional Health, the Hon Mark Coulton MP.
Minister Coulton said Q fever is a major issue for regional Australians.
“Q fever is a disease that affects families across the country. That is why the Government is acting to provide more support and more options for most at-risk Australians.”
Q Fever is caused by the bacterium Coxiella burnetii and results in a flu-like illness that can be severe. The bacteria is spread from animals – mainly cattle, sheep and goats – but can travel up to 30 kilometres in dry, windy conditions and infect people who have had no contact with animals.
For this reason, Q Fever remains a threat not only to farming communities but also to deployed military personnel around the world, particularly in regions where the disease is endemic.
“I’m excited by the potential of this new-generation vaccine, being developed by an Australian research partnership. It could be a breakthrough for not only Australian farmers and meatworkers, but rural communities around the world,” Minister Coulton said.
“This development is exciting and complements the Government’s investment in the existing Q-Vax® vaccine, which so many rural Australians, including me, currently rely on,” the Minister said.
This work will accelerate research towards the ultimate aim of an Australian designed and led, industrial-scale solution to a complex disease. It will also leave a lasting legacy for Australian industrial capability in preclinical trials and manufacturing, as well as training a new generation of product developers.
The funded studies will investigate the dose-effectiveness of the novel vaccine compared to the current vaccine, Q-Vax®, as a prelude to clinical trials on people.