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Wednesday / December 2.
HomeminewsAustralian River Blindness Cure Recognised

Australian River Blindness Cure Recognised

Founder and Managing Director of Medicines Development for Global Health, Mr Mark Sullivan, has been awarded the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering’s (ATSE) top annual award, for his new approach to a tropical disease that is a leading cause of blindness. The Clunies Ross Award was announced at the 2020 ATSE Innovation and Excellence Awards on 30 July 2020.

Mr Sullivan recognised the importance of re-purposing a veterinary medicine to treat and help eliminate river blindness – the world’s second-most common cause of blindness due to infection, which is caused by a parasitic worm and affects some of the world’s poorest communities.

Mr Sullivan raised the capital required to reestablish manufacturing, undertake pre-clinical and clinical trials, assembled the regulatory submission and won the approval for human use of a new drug, moxidectin. In doing so, his company became the first not for profit company in history to win solo US FDA approval for a new medicine.

This year, Mr Sullivan’s company is starting to introduce moxidectin into the African setting and beginning development for four other tropical diseases affecting disadvantaged communities world-wide. Having worked for 30 years in pharmaceutical development as part of multinational, multidisciplinary teams developing new medicines for HIV and hepatitis B, Mr Sullivan said it was an extraordinary honour to be receiving the Clunies Ross Award for Entrepreneur of the Year. ATSE President, Professor Hugh Bradlow congratulated Mr Sullivan on his award, saying it was fitting recognition for creating a new pharmaceutical model for neglected tropical diseases.

“The drug moxidectin has the potential to eliminate river blindness,” Professor Bradlow said. This is a remarkable achievement particularly as the availability of the drug will change strategies for treatment of this infectious disease.”

Mr Sullivan was one of several recipients from a range of fields including biotech, agriculture and engineering to receive an ATSE Innovation and Excellence Award. Much of the work awarded is already being applied across a range of industries, and some is well on its way to being available for commercial use.

View the awards at www.atse.org. au/2020atseawards. 

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