The country's peak scientific body is set to carry out new research to help identify possible new treatments for COVID-19.
In a new $1.7 million project, scientists at the CSIRO will look to develop new ways of screening existing drugs to be used to treat Covid patients.
It's hoped that the research project will be able to advance to have up to three TGA-approved drug candidates to progress to human trials within the year.
CSIRO scientist and project leader S.S. Vasan said while vaccines had been developed to prevent the spread of Covid in the community, treatment was also needed for patients who had acquired the virus.
"Now that we're seeing vaccines approved, we have a huge need for treatments for Covid that are safe and effective and affordable," Dr Vasan said.
"The fact remains that not everyone can be vaccinated all at once, and at the moment we do have supply issues."
Dr Vasan said one of the main reasons for helping to develop new forms of treatments for Covid patients was to prevent those who had been infected from developing more serious symptoms.
"You want therapies to be able to treat people with the most virulent forms of Covid," he said.
"This is to prevent people who have a mild case from becoming a severe case or a critical case."
As part of the research, scientists will also look into developing new forms of treatment for long Covid, where patients have symptoms months after their initial infection.
Dr Vasan said while repurposing existing drugs to treat Covid is a good strategy, current methods to do so are time consuming.
"The...funding will enable us to develop a multi-tissue drug screening tool, tailored for infections by [Covid] and all its variants of concern," he said.
Researchers will use four types of human tissues, which include lower respiratory tract, lung, neural and cardiac tissues.
Project collaborator Professor Eugene Athan said tissues such as those from the lower respiratory tract and lungs were used because of the role they play in severe infections.
"The neural and cardiac tissues are highly relevant because this disease is now known to cause neurological disorders, heart dysfunction and damage in some patients," Professor Athan said.
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