News & Events
Home > News & Events > Improving vision through ANFF-C

The Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF) provides researchers and industry with micro and nanofabrication equipment and expertise, nurturing national advancement in critical fabrication technologies. ANFF’s innovative, open access infrastructure is essential to keep Australia at the forefront of global research and to foster pioneering solutions to real world problems.

Unfortunately, many technical advances do not develop beyond solving an interesting research problem. To capture the full benefits of Australia’s world-class basic research, more of these lab solutions must be translated into commercialised products and services that will work in the real world and that can be manufactured right here in Australia.

Our ANFF-C platform helps bridge the gap between benchtop discovery and product development through the provision of services to support the early commercialisation steps of intellectual property developed using ANFF facilities. At ANFF-C, we are “Helping Great Ideas Get to Market” by providing funding for the out-of-lab resources needed to make promising projects investment ready.

ANFF-C has just approved funding to assist muPharma, a Victorian-based biotechnology company that focuses on non-invasive delivery of drugs and vaccines. The driving force behind muPharma’s innovative technology is ophthalmologist Dr Harry Unger, who regularly saw patients risking blindness because they feared or were unable to have eye injections. To address this problem, muPharma was founded in 2012, by ophthalmologist / inventor Dr. Harry Unger and lawyer / inventor Mark Unger. Working closely with ANFF and the Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication (MCN) led by Prof. Nicolas Voelcker and his team including Dr Sean Langelier and Dr Ashley Dyer, Harry and Mark successfully created an ingenious handheld device that enables needle-free drug delivery. Their technology uses ultrasound to increase the permeability of tissue in contact with the device known as sonophoresis.

The company’s revolutionary handheld ultrasonic device is safer, more convenient and eliminates the pain and risk associated with using a needle and syringe to inject medication directly into ocular tissues. The non-invasive process is over in a matter of minutes and unlike intra-ocular injection treatments, the patient can go back to everyday activities like driving or work immediately afterwards. Nurses can also administer the treatment, freeing up physicians to perform more complex, demanding procedures.

The first application of this ground-breaking tool will be the treatment of age-related macular degeneration, a major cause of blindness in people aged 55 years and over. Advanced trials at Monash University have already proven that muPharma’s device successfully delivers the eye medication Avastin to the back of the eye in live animals. This technological marvel can also be used to replace painful vaccination shots with ultrasonic delivery via the inside of the lip or the nasal membrane which can elicit protective immune cells and antibodies at these and other mucosal surfaces where they prevent disease and transmission. In live animal tests performed at The Peter Doherty Institute and Australian National University, the device produced a robust, protective level of mucosal immunity to influenza virus and HIV.

With many patents granted, muPharma’s disruptive product is a world-first and has the potential to solve major healthcare problems in ophthalmology and immunology. As a launchpad for new, innovative technology and companies, ANFF-C’s investment will enable muPharma to confirm the regulatory strategy and manufacturing plan for their life-changing drug and vaccine delivery device. Our timely assistance will help muPharma more effectively raise investment money and accelerate their commercialisation success. ANFF-C is helping muPharma’s great idea get to market.

By enabling great technologies to become investment-ready enterprises, ANFF-C will help leverage Australia’s fantastic foundation of resources and infrastructure, harvesting homegrown innovation to create the products and services that make a difference in our everyday lives.