Million dollar boost for ‘next-generation’ condom
THE state government is spending $1 million on development of the "next-generation" condom that is expected to "enhance sexual experience" and stop people spreading sexually transmitted illness.
Wollongong-based Eudaemon Technologies will use the cash from the Medical Device Fund to take its product to human trials, meaning STI-free couples in Australia, America and Africa will be paid to have sex with the innovative condoms.
The non-allergenic, clear condom is made from hydrogels that act like latex rubber but with "enhanced feel and self-lubrication and without odours or tastes".
Condoms, which are classified as a medical device, are already an $8 billion industry with 27 billion sold internationally each year.
But Eudaemon co-founder Dr Robert Gorkin said they needed improvement.
"Women are a key demographic for us, it's not just about making (sex) feel better for the guy but it's for women as well," Dr Gorkin said.
"We've surveyed hundreds of people and it's the feel of condom that's a big issue and that's for men and women. Then smell and taste as well as some people are allergic to them. You ask anyone about condoms and it's a 'have to use' instead of a 'want to'.
"Yes they're a very effective medical device but there is so much room for improvement to create a better experience."
It is expected that by enhancing the sexual experience, more people will use condoms and therefore reduce sexually transmitted illness and unwanted pregnancies which cost $60 billion a year internationally. The new condoms have been in the works for more than three years and research was kicked off with a $100,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2014.
The human trials will focus on the functionality of the condom.
"In the phase one trial about 30 couples will have sex multiple times … and give us a report," Dr Gorkin said, adding it was hoped future trials would evaluate how the condoms improved "sensation" by monitoring brain activity.
The product could be on the market in as little as two years.
Other game-changing medical devices awarded money from the $9.85 million Medical Device Fund include $2.2 million for a portable, solar-powered dialysis machine.
Health and Medical Research Minister Brad Hazzard announced the recipients last night.
"Since the Medical Devices Fund began in 2013, the state government has awarded more than $50 million in grants to 31 technologies," Mr Hazzard said.
"We are committed to supporting innovators in the medtech industry in getting their brilliant ideas off the ground and ultimately saving millions of lives around the world."