Current projects

Partnerships in product development research

The Pharmaceutical Innovation and Development group is a unique collaboration between the pharmaceutical industry and academia. The group is a network of University pharmaceutical researchers and local companies with Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) and Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) compliant facilities and capabilities. The group’s mission is to achieve excellence in translational research and training involving drug development and delivery.

Pharmaceutical scientists from the University of South Australia are globally acknowledged for their expertise and contribution in the areas of preformulation, delivery systems, pharmacokinetics and pharmacogenomics. The group has partnered with Adelaide based GD Pharma (GMP manufacturing), CPR Pharma Services (GLP accredited) and IDT CMAX (GCP Clinical trials) to offer a range of pharmaceutical regulatory research and development services. 

With an innovation and partnership driven approach, the groupacts as a one stop destination for progressing molecules to medicines, ensuring significant savings of time and resources. The group is working closely with a range of companies developing human and veterinary pharmaceutical, biotechnological, complementary, nutrition and cosmetics products. In addition, the group collaborates widely with other academic and research institutions ensuring access to the latest innovations in product development research. Contact Prof Sanjay Garg for further information.

Novel antimicrobial compounds and delivery systems

Collaborators: Prof Sanjay Garg, Dr May Song, Dr Qian Zhang, Dr Thomas Barclay, Prof Darren Trott (ACARE University of Adelaide), Dr Stephen Page (Luoda Pharma), Prof Adam MuCluskey (University of Newcastle), Dr Rietie Venter, Dr Sam Abraham (Murdoch University)

Effective treatment of bacterial infections is becoming increasingly difficult with the emergence of resistance to multiple classes of antimicrobial drug. In particular, sepsis due to the multidrug resistant (MDR) ESKAPE pathogens (Enterococcus faecium, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and E. coli/Enterobacter species) contribute significantly to morbidity and mortality associated with antimicrobial resistance (700,000 deaths annually) worldwide. Our team is developing novel compounds and formulations for resistant infections, based on molecules currently used for other purposes. The cross disciplinary team brings in expertise on microbiology, medicinal chemistry, pharmaceutical sciences, veterinary medicine, regulatory systems and industrial development.

Optimising the oral bioavailability of drugs

Collaborators: Prof Clive Prestidge, Dr Shasha Rao, Dr Nicky Thomas and Mr Karl Peressin

Poor water solubility is a common trait of drugs coming out of the discovery pipelines of pharmaceutical industry that limits their use as effective therapeutics. Apart from challenging physico-chemical properties many drugs also demonstrate food-dependent pharmacokinetics associated with erratic bioavailability, increased side-effects, potential toxicity, and reduced patient acceptance. By understanding the mechanisms of food-dependent drug absorption our research group has successfully engineered hybrid lipid-based drug delivery systems that ameliorate the food effect and increase bioavailability of drugs. We have re-formulated drugs used for therapy in cancer, coronary heart disease, mental disorders, pain and infection. Our LipoCeramics drug delivery platform has demonstrated superior performance in humans compared to conventional dosage forms. Moreover, this technology can be readily up-scaled meeting the requirements of pharmaceutical industry.

Nanomedicine and biofilms

Collaborators: Dr Nicky Thomas and Prof. Clive Prestidge

Microbial biofilms are associates with extreme antibiotic tolerance, recurring diseases as well as high morbidity and mortality. Moreover, biofilms provide a reservoir for the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria which has been identified as one of the most devastating global threats. Nanomedicine offers unprecedented opportunities in the fight against biofilms and antibiotic resistant bacteria. However, while the efficacy of currently available antimicrobials is well documented there is only limited knowledge on the antimicrobial effects of nanomedicines. By engineering state of the art, next generation antimicrobials our group investigates the interaction of nanomedicines with and their efficacy against recalcitrant biofilms. We a particularly interested in the design of smart, bio-responsive drug delivery systems that sense the presence of bacteria thereby triggering drug release for a directed action against bacteria while reducing undesired side effects.

Adelaide Biofilm Test Facility

Developing particulate carriers for oral vaccination

Collaborators: Prof Clive Prestidge, Dr Shasha Rao, Mr Karl Peressin, Prof Benjamin Thierry (Future Industries Institute, UniSA), Prof Rachel Gibson, industry collaborators.

Micron or nano sized particles designed to deliver biologics orally have significant societal benefits. The functional particles can protect therapeutic peptides and proteins from rapid enzymatic degradation before absorption, and enhance their intestinal uptake. This multi-disciplinary program aims to advance fundamental understanding of the uptake of particulate carriers by the intestinal epithelium. In particular, we design advanced in vitro microfluidic models of the intestine comprising the key pathophysiological components of the intestinal epithelium, e.g. enterocytes, M cells and mucus to understand their role in the uptake. Running in parallel, we develop and apply in vivo models to probe the biodistribution of particulate carriers and biologics in organs of the immune system and the functional efficacy. By improving the fundamental understanding, we design and develop the next generation of particulate carriers for the oral delivery of protein based antigens and therapeutics.