Medical research will play a leading role in reforging Queensland and China’s relationship post-Covid, according to clinical immunologist Professor Ian Frazer.
In a livestreamed event to health and smart manufacturing start-ups in Brisbane’s sister-city of Chongqing, recently, the Professor of Medicine at the University of Queensland outlined how the regions shared the common passion for innovation in research.
Jingang Medicine Pty Ltd – which Prof chairs – is currently examining a vaccine to treat men and women with existing infection with papillomavirus. It follows his ground-breaking collaboration with China’s Dr Jian Zhou which led to the creation of the human papillomavirus prevention vaccine Gardasil, earning him the 2006 Australian of the Year honour. So far, 300 million women have received the vaccine, world-wide.
Jingang has applied to the Chinese FDA to manufacture and conduct a clinical trial of its therapeutic HPV vaccine in Chongqing.
The application follows a visit Prof Frazer and Jingang CEO Neil Finlayson made to Chongqing, prior to travel bans, to visit the city’s clinical trial facilities. The visit was made at the suggestion of Prof Frazer’s longstanding colleague, Dr James Pang, who introduced them to Dr Lina Hu and her colleagues at the Chongqing Medical University.
“Gardasil and the other similarly virus like particle-based vaccines cannot help to cure people who are already infected with human papillomavirus and at risk of cancer,” he said in his keynote address to the event.
“We met with Dr Hu and her colleagues to explore the possibility of conducting clinical trials of our vaccine technology in China. HPV associated cervical precancer is a relatively more common disease in China than in Australia, and it would be logistically easier to conduct a trial to eliminate chronic HPV infection in Chongqing than in Brisbane.
“We very much enjoyed the warm welcome that we received in Chongqing, and I was impressed by the impressive new hospital that has been built there. We were also very pleased with the facilities available for conducting clinical trials at the Medical University, including the excellent laboratory facilities, and the well organised process for approving and overviewing the conduct of clinical trials.”
Prof Frazer was invited to provide the keynote address in the event, organised by the Chongqing Municipal and Liangjiang New Area District Government, in conjunction with Austrade, Trade and Investment Queensland and Study Queensland.
Prof Frazer first travelled to China 25 years ago, forming professional relationships that have helped shape his work in immunology.
“I'm just one of many medical professionals in Queensland and Australia who recognise the value and global benefits that our research relationships with China offer,” said Prof Frazer.
“At the moment, travel restrictions have disrupted our collaborations.
“But between the regions, we share a common passion for innovation in medical research which will again come to the fore once travel permits.”