Sophie Stocker receives grant to lead charge for precision medicine research

Posted: 20 December 2021

Dr. Sophie Stocker, a senior lecturer at the University of Sydney, has been awarded a Ramaciotti Health Investment Grant of close to $100,000 by the Clive and Vera Ramaciotti Foundations to undertake medical research for precision medicine using a wearable sensor.

This grant will be matched by Melbourne-based MedTech company and BioMelbourne Network Member Nutromics, meaning that Dr. Stocker will have $200,000 to conduct research at the University of Sydney and find a potential path to clinical application within 3 years.

Precision medicine is a major goal for the healthcare industry as it ensures everyone receives the right drug, at the right time, and the right dose thereby optimising patient care. However, one of the biggest challenges to realising the promise of precision medicine is the lack of devices that can track a specific target continuously and in real time.

Dr. Stocker is collaborating with Nutromics to use their DNA-based wearable sensors to solve this problem. Nutromics’ sensors are aptamer based and can bind with multiple types of targets, including drugs. The drug that Dr. Stocker’s work will focus on is a life-saving antibiotic which is used to treat life-threatening infections such as sepsis. Identifying the right amount of the drug to give to patients is difficult – too little won’t clear the infection and too much can cause kidney damage.  Using current approaches less than half of the drug’s doses are “just right”, putting patients at risk of significant further health complications or even death.

With Nutromics’ sensors, Dr. Stocker plans to track the concentrations of the drug in the body continuously and in real time, allowing doctors, for the first time, to personalise treatment and aim for optimal patient outcomes.

“It is a great honour to be awarded the Ramaciotti Health Investment Grant. This funding will enable us to develop an innovative pathway to realise the benefits of precision medicine which could save thousands of lives in the future.”  said Dr. Sophie Stocker from Sydney Pharmacy School.

This research will be conducted at the University of Sydney and reflects the success of academic-industry collaborations driving innovation. As part of this project, students at the University of Sydney will be able to hone their translational research skills, critical towards building a talent pipeline in Australia.

“We are excited to be leading such transformational medical research at the University of Sydney. Dr. Stocker’s project will help us better understand the potential wearable technology has to facilitate real time monitoring for medicines.” said Professor Andrew McLachlan the Head of School and Dean for Pharmacy at the University of Sydney.

Nutromics’ wearable sensors and Continuous Molecular Monitoring (CMM) platform technology will be key to these studies. The company recently raised $5.7 million in funding and is focused on preparing for clinical trials in the next year.

Co-founder and co-CEO Peter Vranes said “We are extremely pleased for Dr. Stocker and are excited to further develop Nutromics’ lab-on-the-skin with her and the University of Sydney in 2022.”

The research is expected to commence in 2022, subject to ethics approval. This grant is a significant win for Australian innovation and female scientists in Australia as it is facilitating research that has the potential to revolutionise the healthcare industry as we know it.


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