Research underway at Peter Mac to help protect cancer patients from COVID-19 has received a $2.16 million boost from the Federal Government's Medical Research Future Fund.

The ProTreat trial – run by Professor Monica Slavin, Professor Karin Thursky and colleagues at the National Centre for Infection in Cancer – is testing a nasal spray that may help cancer patients to avoid contracting the virus.

They are also assessing how new COVID-19 treatments, under development in Melbourne, work specifically for cancer patients.

ProTreat is “an adaptive and rapid implementation trial of novel therapies to prevent and treat COVID-19 infection in high risk cancer patients”.

“We know that cancer patients are a particularly vulnerable group, due to their weakened immune system, when it comes to catching or having a poor outcome from this virus,” says Prof Slavin, who is Head of the Department Infectious Disease Peter Mac and Director of the National Centre for Infections in Cancer.

“This research is about ensuring we’re doing everything we can to support patients in their cancer fight during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt announced the funding for ProTreat as part of a broader $66 million package for COVID-19 research across Australia.

Australian scientists are working on a vaccine and other ways to prevent COVID-19 infection, and novel treatments.

Mr Hunt outlined the new funding in Melbourne on Tuesday. Read the funding announcement in full here or hear from Prof Slavin below.