Former Stawell woman secures grant to help save lives

Research scientist and former Stawell woman Michelle McIntosh believes her research resulting in a product which will save thousands of lives could be complete within three to four years.

Jabrill Ibrahim and Michelle McIntosh look over the results of a western blot test.

Jabrill Ibrahim and Michelle McIntosh look over the results of a western blot test.

This comes with news last week of a major funding announcement that a world-class pharmaceutical science laboratory will be established at the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences in Parkville, assisting Dr McIntosh and her team with their work.

Dr McIntosh's team is developing an inhaled version of the drug oxytocin, which prevents excessive bleeding after childbirth and could save thousands of women's lives.

Currently administered as an injection, the new inhaled version of the drug does not require refrigeration and would have clear benefits in developing countries where refrigeration is limited and skilled health workers to administer the injected drug are not common.

"We are making good progress and if things continue as well as they have been we could potentially have a product within three to four years," she said.

"However, the product will still face the regulatory process before it is approved for use.

"Because it is a well known product that we are changing from an injection into a different dosage form, it is a much faster process.

"By the time we are finished it will be around a seven-year project, which is a pretty short time to get through the regulatory process."

Oxytocin is an essential medicine recommended by the World Health Organisation for all women immediately after childbirth to prevent excessive bleeding.

Dr McIntosh said the new facility would mean they would no longer have to use as many overseas labs for their work and would be able to complete the project in Australia.

"There are going to be some key parts of this new facility that we are going to set up that mean that we can continue to do the research in Australia rather than outsourcing that," she said.

"We are really pleased in terms of what it will do for our project and what it will mean for future projects."

The laboratory will be established with the help of a $1.2 million grant from the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust.

This latest boost to the work of Dr McIntosh and her team follows a $500,000 funding injection last year through the McCall MacBain Foundation.

Dr McIntosh attended St Patrick's Primary School and then on her move to Ballarat with her parents, attended St Thomas More Primary School and Loreto College.

She is the daughter of Michael and Pauline Moore.

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