Melbourne, Australia 21 March 2011: Hundreds of Australian patients are set to trial a new oral vaccine designed to help people plagued by chronic respiratory infections, predominantly during winter.
Scientists at Melbourne biotechnology company Hunter Immunology have developed a treatment for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder, or COPD, which is being trialled on up to 340 patients at major hospitals around the country.
Recruitment is now underway at 23 sites, including The Austin Hospital, The Alfred and the Royal Melbourne in Victoria, St Vincents Hospital and the Prince of Wales Hospitals in Sydney and both Royal Brisbane and Royal Perth Hospitals. It's estimated almost 10 per cent of Australians aged over 30 suffer from the condition, which is predominantly caused by cigarette smoking.
The drug HI 164OV is taken orally and works by stimulating the immune system to alleviate the flare ups commonly occurring in patients with moderate to severe disease.
Hunter Immunology's Professor Robert Clancy said earlier trials had been "extremely promising".
"Patients involved in previous trials of this treatment required fewer drugs, fewer antibiotics and had a much lower rate of hospitalisation," he said.
"This much larger trial of HI 164OV is of international interest. If the results of our earlier trials are replicated this treatment should greatly help sufferers of COPD and could be available within five years."
COPD is recognised as the fourth largest cause of death in the Western world. It is a progressive lung disease that basically makes it difficult to breath.
Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of COPD. Most people who have COPD smoke, or used to smoke. Long term exposure to other lung irritants, such as air pollution, chemical fumes or dust may also contribute to the condition.
About Hunter Immunology
Hunter Immunology is a Sydney-based biotechnology company focused on new treatments for respiratory diseases including Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Asthma.
Its lead product HI-164OV, works by stimulating the immune system to fight the incidence and severity of acute bronchitis in patients with COPD, which is currently the world's fourth largest cause of death.
Two Phase IIa trials have already been completed. The company is currently conducting a more extensive clinical trial in Australia
Globally COPD is a major cause of disability, hospital admissions and death. The estimated cost of drugs in the US to treat and manage COPD is approximately $US5 billion per annum with associated medical costs estimated at over $US37 billion annually.