A global innovation that has the potential to prevent women in developing countries from the fatal loss of blood after childbirth will move a step closer to human trials, following a $500,000 gift from Australia's Planet Wheeler Foundation.
Monash University's Dr Michelle McIntosh has been – and remains - on a crusade to raise millions of dollars to fund an innovation that could save an extraordinary number of lives.
Over the past decade more than one million women in developing countries have died of excessive bleeding during pregnancy. A simple injection of oxytocin can prevent or treat postpartum bleeding, but there are difficulties in developing countries, as it needs cold storage, and to be administered by doctors or nurses.
Dr Michelle McIntosh, Dr Richard Prankerd and Associate Professor David Morton at the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences are working on developing a device from which women can inhale an oxytocin dry powder immediately after delivery.
Recognising the importance of improving global health, the contribution from Planet Wheeler Foundation represents thefirst Australian trust to provide financial support to help move the project forward into human clinical trials.
The Melbourne-based foundation, formed by the co-founders of the Lonely Planet Publications, has a strong focus on supporting vital projects in six regions - East Africa, Burkina Faso, Afghanistan, Burma, Cambodia and Laos. Their support for this research development is unique to the Foundations' philanthropic funding approach, which traditionally funds developments - from building and staffing schools to providing support to people living with disability and to refugees.
The contribution from Planet Wheeler follows a funding challenge issued by international philanthropic organisation the McCall MacBain Foundation. Along with an initial $500,000 pledged earlier this year, the Foundation will gift an additional $1 million in research funding if a further $2 million can be raised from other sources for the Inhaled Oxytocin Project.
The $3 million total will ensure the research team has the resources to take the inhaled oxytocin product through the difficult transition into human clinical trials required to test product safety.
"We are thrilled to have Planet Wheeler – an Australian Foundation - join a growing number of funding bodies who recognise the need to deliver equitable access to a life-saving drug in developing countries," Dr McIntosh said.
"We still have a funding hole of $1 million to fill for this stage but the Planet Wheeler grant has given us cause for hope that other Australian trusts with global health as a focus will be able to come on board."