2018

Impact of overweight on cardiovascular risk in children with type 1 diabetes: a longitudinal study of 5000 Australian children with type 1 diabetes

Project title:

Impact of overweight on cardiovascular risk in children with type 1 diabetes: a longitudinal study of 5000 Australian children with type 1 diabetes

Chief Investigator:

Professor Jenny Couper

Funding Amount:

$75,000

Recipient:

University of Adelaide

Overview:

Heart and blood vessel disease is the most common serious adult complication of childhood diabetes. About 1/3 of children with type 1 diabetes in Australia are overweight . In children with out diabetes even small falls in body weight reduce the risk of heart disease. We will use the Australasian Diabetes Data Network to investigate whether overweight is an important driver of heart and blood vessel disease risk in 5000 children. The results will guide us how vigorously to treat childhood diabetes to minimise excess weight gain.

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Implication of BRCA1/2 germline variants for childhood AML biology and treatment.

Project title:

Implication of BRCA1/2 germline variants for childhood AML biology and treatment.

Chief Investigator:

Professor Richard D’Andrea

Funding Amount:

$75,000

Recipient:

University of South Australia

Overview:

We have uncovered a novel mechanism associated with development of childhood AML, an aggressive childhood malignancy. Our studies suggest that a significant percentage of childhood AML patients will benefit from tailored therapy with approved clinical agents. To test this we propose a number of experiments using AML patient samples.

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Evaluation of antibodies against CD123 as a therapy for childhood AML

Project title:

Evaluation of antibodies against CD123 as a therapy for childhood AML

Chief Investigator:

Dr Hayley Ramshaw

Funding Amount:

$75,000

Recipient:

University of South Australia

Overview:

Leukaemia is the most common childhood cancer, and of the types of leukaemia AML is the second most common in children. The 5 year survival rate is around 65% overall, but for some subtypes of AML is much lower. Targeted therapies are urgently needed for leukaemia to replace or supplement currently used harsh chemotherapies. We have an antibody that is currently in clinical trial in adults with AML and would like to test it to determine whether it could be used in children with this devastating disease.

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Role of parental age on offspring health.

Project title:

Role of parental age on offspring health.

Chief Investigator:

Associate Professor Rebecca Robker

Funding Amount:

$75,000

Recipient:

University of Adelaide

Overview:

Evidence linking advanced age of both mothers and fathers to autism spectrum disorders in children is becoming impossible to ignore. This project will elucidate the defects that occur in eggs and sperm with aging and test whether reversing them with a novel therapeutic can mitigate anxiety-like behaviours in offspring. This research is essential as more couples choose to have children later in life. The outcomes will improve our understanding of the consequences of parental aging on child health and provide evidence of improving gamete quality prior to pregnancy as a preventative therapy.

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Can school based mindfulness programs prevent mental health problems in adolescents?

Project title:

Can school based mindfulness programs prevent mental health problems in adolescents?

Chief Investigator:

Professor Tracey Wade

Funding Amount:

$75,000

Recipient:

Flinders University

Overview:

Given one in four Australians aged 16-24 have a mental health condition1, schools are investing millions of dollars in programs that may enhance mental health (The Australian, 9.1.17, Schools invest in ‘wellness’ centres). However, current program developers of mindfulness are “flying blind” in trying to modify the robustly successful adult curricula to youth. This research will make a world-first contribution in identifying key ingredients needed for effective youth versions of mindfulness. This will assist schools in choosing evidence based programs matched to appropriate ages.

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Characterization of beta cell-like cells coverted from human urine stem cells

Project title:

Characterization of beta cell-like cells coverted from human urine stem cells

Chief Investigator:

Professor Xin-Fu Zhou

Funding Amount:

$75,000

Recipient:

University of South Australia

Overview:

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a life-long condition usually diagnosed in childhood. The desired therapy for T1D is to replenish the lost beta cells with functional healthy beta cells. Islet replacement therapy is a possible attractive solution and the success with clinical islet transplantation demonstrates the general approach has the potential to restore normal glucose control in T1D patients. In this project, we propose a novel approach to address the problem of low availability of islets for replacement therapy and the immune mediated rejection response by using patients own stem cells.

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Chimeric Antigen Receptor Tregulatory cells (CAR-Treg) as a treatment for Type 1 Diabetes (TID)

Project title:

Chimeric Antigen Receptor Tregulatory cells (CAR-Treg) as a treatment for Type 1 Diabetes (TID)

Chief Investigator:

Dr Timothy Sadlon

Funding Amount:

$74,915

Recipient:

Women’s and Children’s Health Network

Overview:

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is caused by autoimmune destruction of the insulin-producing pancreatic beta-cells. There is no cure for T1D, and patients require lifelong daily insulin injections. In T1D, Regulatory T cells (Tregs) fail and can no longer prevent the autoimmune response. Giving Tregs to T1D children is a potential new therapy but has been hampered by an inability to make large numbers of the ‘right’ Treg that will work in the pancreas. We propose to overcome this by reprogramming Treg with autoantigen targeting chimeric antigen receptors to test their suitability as a new T1D therapy.

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An investigation into eating and anxiety disorder risk factors and genetic architecture in adolescent twin girls

Project title:

An investigation into eating and anxiety disorder risk factors and genetic architecture in adolescent twin girls

Chief Investigator:

Dr Kate Fairweather-Schmidt

Funding Amount:

$74,906

Recipient:

Flinders University

Overview:

This project will provide crucial information of eating disorder risk during its greatest incidence period of adolescence, both at a diagnostic and symptom level, of pertinence to clinical and public health applications. Findings will (1) generate knowledge pertaining to observed co-occurrence of eating disorders and anxiety, including overlap between genetic and environmental risk factors; and, (2) identify strategic and specific targets that can maximise the success of interventions for prevention and treatment of eating and anxiety disorders.

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Understanding the microbiology underlying severe ear infections in Aboriginal children.

Project title:

Understanding the microbiology underlying severe ear infections in Aboriginal children.

Chief Investigator:

Professor Peter Morris

Funding Amount:

$74,800

Recipient:

Menzies School of Health Research

Overview:

Chronic suppurative otitis media (CSOM) is a severe form of persistent middle ear infection. CSOM rates in remote Aboriginal communities exceed World Health Organization levels – a massive public health problem requiring urgent attention. Hearing loss arising from persistent middle ear infection is associated with poorer educational outcomes. Standard treatments fail to resolve CSOM in 70% of children. We propose the first in-depth study of the bacteria associated with CSOM in Aboriginal children. Better understanding of the bacteria underlying CSOM is needed to inform improved treatments.

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Strain-specific immune responses to Streptococcus pneumoniae in Northern Territory children with bronchiectasis

Project title:

Strain-specific immune responses to Streptococcus pneumoniae in Northern Territory children with bronchiectasis

Chief Investigator:

Dr Susan Pizzutto

Funding Amount:

$74,798

Recipient:

Menzies School of Health Research

Overview:

The prevalence of bronchiectasis (BE), a lung disease characterised by chronic infection, in Northern Territory (NT) Indigenous children is one of the highest on record. Despite a comprehensive immunisation strategy for pneumococcal disease (caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae; Spn), pneumonia accounts for > 60% of BE cases in NT children. Some Spn vaccine strains are associated with lung infection, suggesting suboptimal strain-specific immune responses. This study investigates the contribution of Spn strain-specific immune responses to BE in children, and will inform management strategies.

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Characterizing protein function and protective antibody levels to the leading P. vivax malaria vaccine candidate MSP3

Project title:

Characterizing protein function and protective antibody levels to the leading P. vivax malaria vaccine candidate MSP3

Chief Investigator:

Dr Danny Wilson

Funding Amount:

$74,662

Recipient:

University of Adelaide

Overview:

P. vivax causes ~80 million malaria cases annually, with children in Australia’s neighbouring countries badly affected. In a major collaboration between the Menzies Institute and University of Adelaide, we will develop a unique model of P. vivax vaccine candidate PvMSP3. Using this model, we will detail the unknown function of PvMSP3 and quantify the immune response targeting PvMSP3 that protects children from disease. This study will assess PvMSP3 vaccine candidacy and provide innovative tools to shorten the timeframe of vaccine development against this debilitating childhood pathogen.

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Development of a systemic antibody therapy for burns

Project title:

Development of a systemic antibody therapy for burns

Chief Investigator:

Professor Allison Cowin

Funding Amount:

$74,470

Recipient:

University of South Australia

Overview:

Burns are one of the most painful injuries a child can sustain and survive. Unfortunately current treatments are still a long drawn out process relying heavily on wound dressings that need regular and painful changes and still result in horrific scarring and contractures. We have taken the novel approach to develop a systemic, injectable antibody therapy that heals wounds from the “inside out”. This ground breaking approach could be life changing for the many children who suffer extensive burns.

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Designed Antibiotics Targeting Drug-Resistant and Latent Tuberculosis

Project title:

Designed Antibiotics Targeting Drug-Resistant and Latent Tuberculosis

Chief Investigator:

Dr Kate Wegener

Funding Amount:

$74,411

Recipient:

University of Adelaide

Overview:

Over 200 000 children die each year from tuberculosis (TB), a likely underestimate due to difficulties in diagnosis. Multi drug-resistant (MDR)-TB exacerbates the problem, with over 1000 new cases each year in our neighbour PNG alone. To achieve the WHO goal of zero TB deaths in children we urgently require new medicines. We have identified a promising new target for TB drug development, with importance for both active and latent TB, and no existing resistance mechanisms. Using structure-guided drug design we will develop potent inhibitors of this target as lead compounds for TB treatment.

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A New Breath Test for Paediatric Celiac Disease

Project title:

A New Breath Test for Paediatric Celiac Disease

Chief Investigator:

Dr Roger Yazbek

Funding Amount:

$74,406

Recipient:

Flinders University

Overview:

Almost 1% of Australian children suffer with celiac disease, with a large number still going undiagnosed. Current methods for the detection of celiac disease are costly and invasive, leading to delays in diagnosis. New tests are needed that are non-invasive, rapid, and more suitable for a paediatric setting. We have developed a new, stable-isotope breath test that may detect the intestines ability to break down gluten. We will conduct a pilot study of this breath test in children with and without celiac disease to provide proof-of-concept data for future, large scale clinical studies.

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The utility of resveratrol for improving fetal growth in complicated pregnancies

Project title:

The utility of resveratrol for improving fetal growth in complicated pregnancies

Chief Investigator:

Dr Alison Care

Funding Amount:

$74,276

Recipient:

University of Adelaide

Overview:

Impaired fetal growth during pregnancy impacts subsequent health for babies and children, but few interventions can improve fetal growth. Our recent studies suggest that resveratrol, a natural anti-inflammatory compound in red grapes, is a potential agent for improving fetal growth in pregnancy. We will study how resveratrol promotes the function of regulatory T cells, a leukocyte subset crucial for placental function and pregnancy success, that is deficient in many pregnant women. The results will facilitate development of resveratrol as a novel treatment in common obstetric conditions.

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Impact of Phthalate exposure in fathers on programming of offspring neurological phenotype

Project title:

Impact of Phthalate exposure in fathers on programming of offspring neurological phenotype

Chief Investigator:

Professor Sarah Robertson

Funding Amount:

$73,445

Recipient:

University of Adelaide

Overview:

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disorder which effects 1:100 Australians. It is accepted that unknown environmental factors contribute to ASD risk, with studies linking changes in the gametes and conception environment to increased risk. There is speculation that endocrine disrupting compound (EDC) exposure contributes to ASD. Animal models indicate that maternal preconception EDC exposure alters offspring brain development, but few studies evaluate paternal EDC exposure, despite epidemiological data linking male pre-conception EDC exposure to poor childhood health.

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Getting into the Game: Evaluation of advanced movement skills of school-aged children with autism spectrum disorder

Project title:

Getting into the Game: Evaluation of advanced movement skills of school-aged children with autism spectrum disorder

Chief Investigator:

Ms Kerry Evans

Funding Amount:

$49,651

Recipient:

Novita Children’s Services

Overview:

Almost half of SA children receiving NDIS support have autism (ASD). These children are less physically active than peers, and movement skill issues are now known to complicate the clinical picture. The motor skill gaps widen with age, leading to less chances for participation and social interaction (i.e., circular impact on ASD impairments). However, there is no measure that fully captures the movement issues in these children. We aim to provide a tool that will. With child input we will also create a user guide for physiotherapists/coaches to inform interventions and support participation.

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Developing a 3D navigation model for improving precision and success rates for treating developmental dysplasia of the hip in children [ECR]

Project title:

Developing a 3D navigation model for improving precision and success rates for treating developmental dysplasia of the hip in children

Chief Investigator:

Dr Liping Wang

Funding Amount:

$34,926

Recipient:

University of South Australia

Overview:

Developmental dislocation of the hip (DDH) is a major cause of disabilities in children. Open surgery is often needed to re-shape (osteotomy) the hip socket/femoral head and move the femur back into place. DDH surgery is complex and can cause avascular necrosis and re-dislocation. Improving accuracy of DDH operation is a major challenge in paediatric orthopedics. Our pilot work achieved precise osteotomy with a 3D-printed navigation template. This project will further explore precise osteotomy methods, which can lead to individualized precise surgical methods of higher success rates for DDH.

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A therapeutic for infant acute lung injury: minimising immune-mediated damage to developing lungs during respiratory infection [ECR]

Project title:

A therapeutic for infant acute lung injury: minimising immune-mediated damage to developing lungs during respiratory infection

Chief Investigator:

Miss Elena Cavallaro

Funding Amount:

$34,874

Recipient:

Flinders University

Overview:

Bronchiolitis and pneumonia are leading causes of infant hospitalisation in Australia. The exaggerated immunological insult stemming from these infections on developing lungs is associated with early-childhood asthma development. We have used a small protein, feG, to reduce the consequences of acute lung injury in various adult animal models, by dampening the immune response. We aim to assess feG efficacy in reducing the short and long-term effects of bronchiolitis and pneumonia during infancy, where feG may be an ideal candidate for returning the balance of the immune response in the airways.

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Developing a new culturally responsive e-mental health resource: The Aboriginal and Islander Mental Health Initiative for Youth (AIMhi-Y) [ECR]

Project title:

Developing a new culturally responsive e-mental health resource: The Aboriginal and Islander Mental Health Initiative for Youth (AIMhi-Y)

Chief Investigator:

Ms Josey Povey

Funding Amount:

$33,503

Recipient:

Menzies School of Health Research

Overview:

Indigenous youth are disproportionality exposed to risk factors for poor mental health. They are five times more likely to die by suicide than their non-Indigenous peers. Barriers prevent help-seeking commensurate to need. Electronic mental health resources offer an opportunity to provide early intervention, by bridging geographic and sociocultural divides, provided they are designed to meet the needs of Indigenous youth. This study will draft a new culturally responsive e-mental health resource designed to improve access to structured, evidence based mental health care for Indigenous youth.

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Warming and humidifying inspiratory gases to minimise lung injury during resuscitation of extremely preterm infants.

Project title:

Warming and humidifying inspiratory gases to minimise lung injury during resuscitation of extremely preterm infants.

Chief Investigator:

Dr Scott Morris

Funding Amount:

$31,350

Recipient:

Flinders University

Overview:

Extremely preterm babies have a high risk of lung damage leading to chronic lung disease. The cold and dry medical gases routinely used when resuscitating very small babies may damage the airway lining and contribute to chronic lung disease. Using warm and humid gases for resuscitation could be a very simple way to reduce damage to the lung. In this study we will compare cold dry gas with warm humid gas when resuscitating extremely preterm babies. If warm humid gas is less damaging, then an immediate benefit in health outcomes could be achieved with a change in clinical practice.

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2017

Psychosocial risks during pregnancy: The impact of screening and early referral on child outcomes

Project title:

Psychosocial risks during pregnancy: The impact of screening and early referral on child outcomes

Chief Investigator:

Dr Jacqui Beall

Funding Amount:

$73,375

Recipient:

Flinders University

Overview:

The first 1,000 days of a child’s life, from pregnancy to their 2nd birthday, are crucial for development. It forms the foundation for lifelong health and functioning yet is also the time when children are most vulnerable. At Flinders Medical Centre we identify pregnant women who are facing difficulties which may pose risks to their baby, and aim to link them to services which can help even before their baby is born. But does this make a difference? In the first stage of a large cohort study we will look at how psychosocial risks identified during pregnancy impact on babies’ health and safety.

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T-follicular helper cells in children with malaria

Project title:

T-follicular helper cells in children with malaria

Chief Investigator:

Dr Michelle Boyle

Funding Amount:

$72,000

Recipient:

Menzies School of Health Research

Overview:

Malaria caused by Plasmodium results ~ 500,000 deaths annually, the majority children under five years of age. Antibodies are important in immunity against malaria. Specific cells called T-follicular helper cells (TfH) are essential for antibody development. Malaria in children may disrupt TfH cells, but whether this occurs in all forms of malaria and in both children and adults, and the outcomes for antibody development is unknown. We will investigate TfH cells in two forms of malaria and study the impact of TfH on antibody responses. Results will inform the development of vaccines.

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Definition of the ability of zika virus (ZIKV) to infect the placenta, brain and eye that will impact on our understanding of debilitating microcephaly and macular scarring in ZIKV exposed newborns.

Project title:

Definition of the ability of zika virus (ZIKV) to infect the placenta, brain and eye that will impact on our understanding of debilitating microcephaly and macular scarring in ZIKV exposed newborns.

Chief Investigator:

Dr Jillian Carr

Funding Amount:

$74,027

Recipient:

Flinders University

Overview:

The world was shocked by the threat of Ebola. Now we face the more insidious ZIKV. ZIKV is transmitted by a mosquito that spreads dengue, which with 390 million infections pa (Bhatt et al., 2013. Nature), paints a grim picture for future ZIKV. Epidemiology links ZIKV infection of pregnant women to microcephaly and macular scars in newborns with intellectual and visual impairment. A WHO alert suggests travel restrictions in pregnancy and presents ZIKV as an emerging threat to the health of newborns with permanent sequela for the next generation. ZIKV is thus a clear priority for child health.

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Investigations into sepsis-induced high-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) and effects on neurodevelopment in survivors of neonatal sepsis

Project title:

Investigations into sepsis-induced high-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) and effects on neurodevelopment in survivors of neonatal sepsis

Chief Investigator:

Dr Kerrilyn Diener

Funding Amount:

$75,000

Recipient:

The University of Adelaide

Overview:

Preterm babies are particularly vulnerable to acquiring sepsis during their hospital stay, which not only increases the risk of mortality, but also the likelihood of brain-related disorders in survivors from 28% to 49%. There is an emerging concept that HMGB1, a danger molecule released within the body as a result of sepsis, can perpetuate this abnormal brain development. We will investigate this further, as our aim is to develop a targeted therapy that will increase survival rates and support normal brain development. This will significantly benefit the long-term health for preterm neonates.

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Improving the efficiency of cystic fibrosis airway gene therapy

Project title:

Improving the efficiency of cystic fibrosis airway gene therapy

Chief Investigator:

Dr Martin Donnelley

Funding Amount:

$74,213

Recipient:

Women’s and Children’s Health Network

Overview:

Treatments for cystic fibrosis (CF) have improved in recent years, enhancing survival and quality of life, but these interventions are not curative. Gene therapy is likely the only mutation-class-independent method of overcoming CF lung disease, however achieving therapeutic levels of gene transduction is a challenge. This study will assess whether altering our current gene vector pseudotype ‘“ the coating that controls the types of cells transduced ‘“ can result in higher levels of airway gene expression. This will allow us to assess which pseudotype to progress towards clinical trials.

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Using in vivo modelling to investigate therapeutic approaches to reverse/prevent disease resistance in children with high-risk Ph-like B-ALL and T-ALL treated with targeted therapies

Project title:

Using in vivo modelling to investigate therapeutic approaches to reverse/prevent disease resistance in children with high-risk Ph-like B-ALL and T-ALL treated with targeted therapies

Chief Investigator:

Dr Laura Eadie

Funding Amount:

$75,000

Recipient:

SAHMRI

Overview:

Relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) is the leading cause of childhood non-traumatic death (15% of T-ALL and 20% of B-ALL patients relapse). Chemotherapy results in adverse side effects and a lifelong risk of other malignancies. Risk stratification and targeted therapy based on the molecular genetics of an individual’s disease is warranted. We will test the efficacy of novel drugs and combination therapies in mouse models of ALL. Findings will inform clinical practice; therapeutic strategies will be optimised to ensure the best chance of cure for children with high-risk forms of ALL.

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Identification and development of inhibitors of the Zika virus NS2B/3 protease

Project title:

Identification and development of inhibitors of the Zika virus NS2B/3 protease

Chief Investigator:

Dr Nicholas Eyre

Funding Amount:

$71,386

Recipient:

The University of Adelaide

Overview:

The recent outbreak of Zika virus (ZIKV) in South America and its association with birth defects has been declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a “public health emergency of international concern”. Accordingly, there is an urgent need for improved diagnostics, vaccines and antiviral therapies to combat the spread and impact of ZIKV. This project will identify inhibitors of the ZIKV NS2B/3 protease that may be developed as future antiviral therapies to treat ZIKV infection.

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Complement Receptor Immunoglobulin and therapy for type 1 diabetes

Project title:

Complement Receptor Immunoglobulin and therapy for type 1 diabetes

Chief Investigator:

Professor Antonio Ferrante

Funding Amount:

$74,833

Recipient:

SA Pathology

Overview:

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a life-long disease that usually occurs in childhood. We have been researching a recently described receptor, Complement Receptor Immunoglobulin (CRIg) which is selectively expressed on white blood cells involved in induction of autoimmunity and damage to the pancreas (produces insulin). A recent report suggests that CRIg may be a key player in protection against development of diabetes, in an experimental model. We have made the cells rich in CRIg and propose to inject them to protection against T1D, providing a more effective, less toxic and less costly therapy.

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A novel intervention strategy to prevent IUGR

Project title:

A novel intervention strategy to prevent IUGR

Chief Investigator:

Dr Kathryn Gatford

Funding Amount:

$75,000

Recipient:

The University of Adelaide

Overview:

Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) increases risks of perinatal death >5-fold, and has lifelong adverse effects on health. There is currently no treatment to prevent or cure IUGR. We wish to test a novel approach to stimulate the mother’s own production of hormones that promote placental function and fetal growth. We are requesting support to test active ghrelin treatment in mice with variable litter size and prenatal constraint. Importantly, diet can be used to induce activation of ghrelin, providing a pathway for developing a therapy to prevent IUGR which is acceptable to patients.

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Parenting as an investment in child development: what matters and when?

Project title:

Parenting as an investment in child development: what matters and when?

Chief Investigator:

Dr Angela Gialamas

Funding Amount:

$69,574

Recipient:

The University of Adelaide

Overview:

Parents “invest” in their children’s health and development in many ways, but not all parents have the same resources to invest. Less parental investment is a key mechanism for inter-generational transmission of socioeconomic disadvantage. In Australia we have no comprehensive picture of how parents invest in their children at different ages. This project will identify the parenting investments that matter most for children’s development, and when these investments matter most. This is central to informing interventions to improve outcomes for disadvantaged children.

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Breath Testing for Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis in Cystic Fibrosis – Can Volatile Organic Compounds Predict Disease State and Treatment Response? [ECR]

Project title:

Breath Testing for Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis in Cystic Fibrosis – Can Volatile Organic Compounds Predict Disease State and Treatment Response?  [ECR]

Chief Investigator:

Dr Thomas Goddard

Funding Amount:

$32,000

Recipient:

Women’s and Children’s Health Network

Overview:

CF is the most common fatal genetic condition in our community. Children die from respiratory disease caused by recurrent & chronic lung infections. Currently, sputum or broncho-alveolar lavage samples are cultured for several days before lung infection is diagnosed & treated. Because children cannot produce sputum on demand they can require an anaesthetic with a small camera inserted into their lungs to obtain the sample. However, if infections are detectable in the breath, diagnosis and monitoring is far simpler, cheaper and faster, enabling prompt treatment and prevention of disease.

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Gene therapy for cystic fibrosis [ECR]

Project title:

Gene therapy for cystic fibrosis [ECR]

Chief Investigator:

Dr Chantelle McIntyre

Funding Amount:

$34,412

Recipient:

The University of Adelaide

Overview:

From birth, individuals who inherit cystic fibrosis (CF) face a life-long, relentless, regime of medical treatments and physiotherapy in an effort to manage respiratory and digestive complications, and thereby prolong life. However, no cure for CF exists, and premature death is inevitable. Respiratory failure is the most common cause of death. The current study is focused towards developing gene therapy for CF airway disease. This treatment approach has the potential to provide long lasting therapeutic benefit to patients, significantly improving their quality of life, and extending life.

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Increasing breastfeeding and Aboriginal children’s health through culturally appropriate and responsive support

Project title:

Increasing breastfeeding and Aboriginal children’s health through culturally appropriate and responsive support

Chief Investigator:

Associate Professor Philippa Middleton

Funding Amount:

$75,000

Recipient:

SAHMRI

Overview:

Breastfeeding is one of the most important health behaviours for survival, growth, development and overall health of the child, yet only half of Aboriginal babies are being breastfed at 6 months, and only 7% are exclusively breastfed. Infant and child nutrition, especially breastfeeding, is consistently identified as one of the highest priorities for action by Aboriginal communities in SA.

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Children with a marked increase in internalizing behaviour as tweens: determinants and mental health at 16 years.

Project title:

Children with a marked increase in internalizing behaviour as tweens: determinants and mental health at 16 years.

Chief Investigator:

Professor Vivienne Moore

Funding Amount:

$73,942

Recipient:

The University of Adelaide

Overview:

Anxiety and mood disorders are among the most common mental health problems experienced by young people. Not only do they have acute impacts on learning and social relationships, they are often followed by long-term impacts on mental health and life opportunities. Prevention and early intervention are thus recognized as essential. As well as society-wide initiatives, targeted efforts are needed in order to make the best use of finite resources. Thus identifying at-risk families and at-risk children is important, as is knowledge of what could be modified to improve mental health trajectories

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Directed differentiation of embryonic stem cells to insulin producing cells as a cure for Type 1 diabetes

Project title:

Directed differentiation of embryonic stem cells  to insulin producing cells as a cure for Type 1 diabetes

Chief Investigator:

Associate Professor Mark  Nottle

Funding Amount:

$74,882

Recipient:

The University of Adelaide

Overview:

The directed differentiation of human embryonic stem cells to insulin producing cells is seen as a cure for Type I diabetes. However human ESCs are not the same as those originally isolated in mice which has led to the suggestion that these may not be the best cell type for this therapy. We have developed a method which allows us to isolate ESCs similar to that originally isolated  in mice. In characterising these cells we have shown that these can be directed to differentiate to insulin producing cells. The aim of the present study is to complete the characterization of these cells

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Child maltreatment and school outcomes

Project title:

Child maltreatment and school outcomes

Chief Investigator:

Dr Rhiannon Pilkington

Funding Amount:

$69,574

Recipient:

The University of Adelaide

Overview:

In 2012-13 there were 19,120 child protection notifications in South Australia (AIHW, 2014). By the age of 16, 1 in every 4 children will have had a child protection notification, and 1 in 20 will have had that notification substantiated (Hirte, 2008). Child maltreatment is common, and likely to have detrimental short and long-term consequences.

This will be the first study in SA to investigate the developmental, academic, and behavioural outcomes in school according to the type and timing of exposure to child maltreatment.

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Preventing childhood glucocorticoid therapy-induced bone growth defects by blocking the aggravated chemokine SDF-1 signalling [ECR]

Project title:

Preventing childhood glucocorticoid therapy-induced bone growth defects by blocking the aggravated chemokine SDF-1 signalling   [ECR]

Chief Investigator:

Dr Qian Tang

Funding Amount:

$34,995

Recipient:

University of South Australia

Overview:

Glucocorticoids are commonly used in children and cause bone defects, for which mechanisms are unclear and preventative means are lacking. Our in vitro work now showed that dexamethasone (Dex) damages skeletal cells and induces chemokine SDF-1 most prominently, and that the induced SDF-1 increases recruitment of bone-degrading cells (osteoclasts). In Dex-treated rats, this project aims to establish if SDF-1 induction causes bone loss and if blocking SDF-1 protects bone. This work will provide novel mechanistic insights and can lead to a bone protective strategy for children on glucocorticoids.

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Establishment of a new treatment for peanut allergy

Project title:

Establishment of a new treatment for peanut allergy

Chief Investigator:

Dr Billy Tao

Funding Amount:

$73,155

Recipient:

Flinders University

Overview:

Peanut allergy affects 3% of Australian children. It affects family lifestyle, is dangerous for those allergic, and constant vigilance is required. No treatment is available. We will, through a network of allergists, treat peanut allergy using an improved treatment protocol that uses sequential ingestion of 2 types of boiled peanuts followed by roasted peanuts to safely desensitise peanut-allergic children. This world-first home-based treatment will be supervised by allergists and will allow peanut allergic children to be safe from dangerous allergic reactions.

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Investigating the relationship between the ABO blood group system and Shigella interaction with cells

Project title:

Investigating the relationship between the ABO blood group system and Shigella interaction with cells

Chief Investigator:

Dr Elizabeth Ngoc Hoa Tran

Funding Amount:

$65,000

Recipient:

The University of Adelaide

Overview:

Shigella is the leading cause of bacillary dysentery, a human inflammatory disease of the intestines that causes severe diarrhoea in children under the age of 5. Sugar structures (LPS O antigens) on Shigella’s surface have recently been shown to adhere directly to ABO blood group sugars on gut cells. This project will investigate the relationship between ABO blood groups and the adherence/invasion of different Shigella strains to cells, potentially determining if children of a certain blood type are more susceptible to infection, and providing informed approaches to vaccine developments.

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Development and Validation of a New Breath Test for Intestinal Function

Project title:

Development and Validation of a New Breath Test for Intestinal Function

Chief Investigator:

Dr Roger Yazbek

Funding Amount:

$74,931

Recipient:

Flinders University

Overview:

Existing technologies for detection and monitoring of intestinal damage and repair in children are costly and invasive, leading to stress and unnecessary risks. New tests are needed that are non-invasive, rapid, and more suitable for a paediatric setting. We have developed a new, non-radioactive, stable-isotope breath test that can detect a marker of intestinal health and function and have demonstrated the specificity of this test in cells grown in the lab. We will now prove the efficacy of this test in a rat model of intestinal damage to provide proof-of-concept data for future human studies.

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2016

Genetic and early life determinants of childhood obesity [ECR]

Project title:

Genetic and early life determinants of childhood obesity

Chief Investigator:

Dr Prabha Andraweera

Funding Amount:

$35,000

Recipient:

The University of Adelaide

Overview:

25% of South Australian 4 year olds are obese. Obesity places a child at increased risk of childhood morbidity and a variety of adult onset diseases. Genetic factors and intrauterine life contribute to risk of childhood obesity. We will use the detailed demographic, clinical, lifestyle, and genetic data from the SCOPE study to identify antenatal determinants of obesity in the children at age 10. This study will provide novel insights into early origins of obesity that may lead to early life interventions to prevent childhood obesity.

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PI16-CD26 interaction: A new mechanism for immune tolerance in humans?

Project title:

PI16-CD26 interaction: A new mechanism for immune tolerance in humans?

Chief Investigator:

Dr Cheryl Brown

Funding Amount:

$68,000

Recipient:

Women’s & Children’s Health Research Institute

Overview:

Specialised cells called regulatory T cells, or Tregs, are the policemen of the immune system, and are essential for a balanced healthy immune response. However, in type 1 diabetes, there is a breakdown in function of Treg, leading to the onset of autoimmune disease. We have discovered a new molecule called PI16, and we are investigating a new mechanism by which PI16 regulates immune responses in healthy children, but which is altered in type 1 diabetes

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Reducing inflammation to improve burn injury repair

Project title:

Reducing inflammation to improve burn injury repair

Chief Investigator:

Professor Allison Cowin

Funding Amount:

$65,000

Recipient:

University of South Australia

Overview:

Burns are one of the most common injuries in young children. They cause lifelong scarring and frequently contract as the child gets older, requiring extensive surgical intervention to prevent deformity and contracture. Inflammation is a fundamental component of wound healing, however, excessive inflammation is detrimental and leads to fibrosis and scarring. Therapies currently exist to dampen inflammation in other diseases. Since inflammation plays such a significant role in fibrosis and scarring the use of these existing therapies could rapidly lead to new therapeutic approaches for burns.

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Exploring the role of DEPDC5 mutations in childhood brain abnormalities

Project title:

Exploring the role of DEPDC5 mutations in childhood brain abnormalities

Chief Investigator:

Associate Professor Leanne Dibbens

Funding Amount:

$70,000

Recipient:

University of South Australia

Overview:

We will determine if mutations in the DEPDC5 gene are responsible for some defects in child brain development. We recently discovered DEPDC5 mutations cause familial focal epilepsy (inherited). Some patients with earlier age of seizure onset (1-7yrs) have visible brain malformations and intellectual disability and/or autism spectrum disorder. Because DEPDC5 negatively regulates cell growth and metabolism these brain lesions may be due to abnormal growth and metabolism of brain cells. If we can establish this is the case, drugs exist that could treat these children and may prevent some symptoms

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Understanding the genetics of childhood diseases with Next Generation Sequencing

Project title:

Understanding the genetics of childhood diseases with Next Generation Sequencing

Chief Investigator:

Associate Professor Leanne Dibbens

Funding Amount:

$70,000

Recipient:

University of South Australia

Overview:

The majority of childhood diseases do not receive a specific molecular diagnosis. By utilizing the latest in Next Generation DNA Sequencing technologies we can change this. We can now relatively rapidly sequence affected children as well as their affected /unaffected parents and relatives to hunt down the gene(s) causing the disease. This can now be achieved in a few months instead of many years. We will study difficult to solve childhood patients with Neurological disorders referred to us by the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide.

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Neutrophil polarisation in the airways of infants hospitalised with bronchiolitis

Project title:

Neutrophil polarisation in the airways of infants hospitalised with bronchiolitis

Chief Investigator:

Dr Dani-Louise Dixon

Funding Amount:

$75,000

Recipient:

Flinders University

Overview:

Bronchiolitis is the most common severe respiratory tract illness in infants and remains a major cause of infant hospitalisation. Apart from supportive intervention there is no treatment. Bronchiolitis is predominantly caused by viral infections that induce immune cells (neutrophils) to damage the lung, increasing severity and leading to chronic wheeze in up to 50% of patients. Our lab demonstrated that decreased neutrophil prevalence in the airways is associated with decreased severity of bronchiolitis. However new research suggests that neutrophil type may be as important as absolute number.

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Optimal dietary metal ion uptake and its role in protection against childhood bacterial disease [ECR]

Project title:

Optimal dietary metal ion uptake and its role in protection against childhood bacterial disease

Chief Investigator:

Dr Bart Eijkelkamp

Funding Amount:

$35,000

Recipient:

The University of Adelaide

Overview:

Nearly 2 billion people worldwide have a poor zinc status and in the Western world childhood zinc deficiency is on the increase due to unhealthy diets and obesity. The immune system utilizes zinc and copper as antimicrobials to combat infectious diseases. This places children with a poor zinc status at increased risk of infections by widely abundant childhood respiratory pathogens such as Streptococcus pneumoniae. Although zinc deficiency has previously been associated with increased disease burden, the role of zinc and copper as antimicrobials during infection remains unknown.

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A randomised controlled trial on the impact of the Paediatric WalkAide (a drop-foot stimulator) on advanced motor skills and physical activity participation in children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy.

Project title:

A randomised controlled trial on the impact of the Paediatric WalkAide (a drop-foot stimulator) on advanced motor skills and physical activity participation in children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy.

Chief Investigator:

Ms Kerry Evans

Funding Amount:

$74,920

Recipient:

Novita Children’s Services

Overview:

Children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy (CP) often have ankle control issues in one leg, with weakness/spasticity that causes trips/falls due to poor foot clearance when moving quickly. Many wear an ankle brace to stop their foot dragging. However, this blocks ankle motion and affects speed/performance during physical activity (PA). WalkAide is a device worn around a child’s calf. It activates muscles to enable the ankle to move with optimal positioning. Early research shows WalkAide promotes better walking. This study will determine the impact on advanced motor skills and PA participation

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Novel approaches to control mast cell function

Project title:

Novel approaches to control mast cell function

Chief Investigator:

Associate Professor Michele Grimbaldeston

Funding Amount:

$70,000

Recipient:

University of South Australia

Overview:

Allergic disorders, such as asthma, anaphylaxis and atopic dermatitis, remain major health problems in need of better long term management. Currently, approx. 4.1 million Australians are afflicted with disease onset commonly present in children and adolescents. Allergic inflammation can be driven by activated mast cells and we have discovered that a family of proteins, IL-3/IL-5/GM-CSF, present in allergic inflammation can amplify the magnitude of mast cell responses, and that such elevated responses can be combated using our unique human IL-3 receptor blocking antibodies we have developed.

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Immune Monitoring in Renal Transplantation

Project title:

Immune Monitoring in Renal Transplantation

Chief Investigator:

Dr Paul Henning

Funding Amount:

$70,000

Recipient:

Women’s and Children’s Hospital

Overview:

Renal transplantation is the optimum treatment for children with kidney failure. Unfortunately transplant requires lifelong immune system suppression, and hence, the risk of life-threatening infections and cancer. Reducing immunosuppression to avoid these outcomes may result in kidney rejection and transplant loss. This research will explore a number of innovative immune system markers permitting fine-tuning of immune suppression treatment, such that the fine balance between over- and under-immunosuppression can be achieved, and survival of children with renal failure can be maximised.

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Understanding the contribution of parental mosaicism to the causes of childhood genetic epilepsies.

Project title:

Understanding the contribution of parental mosaicism to the causes of childhood genetic epilepsies.

Chief Investigator:

Dr Sarah Heron

Funding Amount:

$75,000

Recipient:

University of South Australia

Overview:

This project will help to accurately define the frequency of somatic mosaicism, that is, the presence of a mutation in only some of the cells in the body, in three genes causing childhood epilepsies (SCN1A, KCNT1 and DEPDC5). Somatic mosaicism can lead to the birth of multiple children with a genetic disorder, even if the parents are unaffected, but is not readily detectable. The data to be gained from this study will improve genetic counselling for affected families by enabling more accurate prediction of the risk of the birth of another affected child.

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Studies into the mechanisms that progress protracted bacterial bronchitis to bronchiectasis in children, and therapeutic targeting of these processes

Project title:

Studies into the mechanisms that progress protracted bacterial bronchitis to bronchiectasis in children, and therapeutic targeting of these processes

Chief Investigator:

Professor Sandra Hodge

Funding Amount:

$75,000

Recipient:

Hanson Institute

Overview:

Inadequate diagnosis and treatment of recurrent Protracted Bacterial Bronchitis (PBB) may lead to reduced lung function and lower life-expectancy. We have found defective airway macrophage phagocytic function in these children that may contribute to a progression of PBB to bronchiectasis. We also found that the macrophage dysfunction in adults with chronic lung disease is associated with sphingosine signalling and that this system is a therapeutic target for FTY720 and macrolide antibiotics. Translating this data to the paediatric setting has a high likelihood of identifying new therapies.

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Childhood oral health and disease – a multifactorial model

Project title:

Childhood oral health and disease – a multifactorial model

Chief Investigator:

Associate Professor Toby Hughes

Funding Amount:

$75,000

Recipient:

The University of Adelaide

Overview:

Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease of Australian children, affecting 50% of 6 year olds. It causes pain, systemic infection, speech/learning problems, and is a predictor for poor general health. Treatment accounts for $5.3 billion in spending in Australia annually.

The role of dietary sugar in tooth decay is well established, however population lifestyle changes are difficult and costly to implement. This project will identify factors in dental plaque for use in early screening to identify high risk children, promoting targeted, less invasive, and more cost-effective interventions.

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Identifying the pathological mechanism of childhood epilepsy and adolescent movement disorders caused by PRRT2 mutations

Project title:

Identifying the pathological mechanism of childhood epilepsy and adolescent movement disorders caused by PRRT2 mutations

Chief Investigator:

Dr James Hughes

Funding Amount:

$75,000

Recipient:

The University of Adelaide

Overview:

Epilepsy and movement disorders are highly debilitating conditions that together affect approximately 3% of individuals at some stage during life. Although many forms are inherited, the disease-causing gene is usually not known. We have recently solved a long standing mystery in this field, identifying that changes in the PRRT2 gene cause childhood seizures, migraine and movement disorders. The aim of this project is to understand how genetic changes in PRRT2 affect brain activity using neuronal and behavioral analyses of a mouse model of PRRT2-disease.

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On-line and in control: PEACHTM (Parenting, Eating and Activity for Child Health) Lifestyle

Project title:

On-line and in control: PEACHTM (Parenting, Eating and Activity for Child Health) Lifestyle

Chief Investigator:

Associate Professor Anthea Magarey

Funding Amount:

$75,000

Recipient:

Flinders University

Overview:

Childhood obesity is a global problem with little evidence to inform practice. Our PEACHTM RCT program is one of few programs to demonstrate effectiveness and has been translated to community settings in SA and QLD .The program targets parents of overweight primary schoolers, taking a family-focussed approach to improve lifestyles and weight status. Recruitment is difficult due to sensitivity of the issue and poor recognition of the problem; retention is challenged by the need for long term support. The proposed program will address these issues to improve children’s health, state-wide.

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A randomised controlled trial evaluating the effectiveness of a nurse-moderated group-based internet support program for mothers with comorbid mild to moderate depression and parenting problems

Project title:

A randomised controlled trial evaluating the effectiveness of a nurse-moderated group-based internet support program for mothers with comorbid mild to moderate depression and parenting problems

Chief Investigator:

Professor Michael Sawyer

Funding Amount:

$75,000

Recipient:

The University of Adelaide

Overview:

This study will utilise a randomised controlled trial to determine whether a 4-month nurse-supported, group-based intervention delivered via the internet when infants are 2-6 months, reduces levels of maternal depressive symptoms and improves the quality of maternal caregiving when infants are aged 2-12 months. The intervention provides easy access for new mothers to both professional and peer support during the immediate postnatal period. These are the two key elements of support that new mothers seek during this period of time.

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Investigating how mutations in IQSEC2 cause intellectual disability and severe early onset seizures in children using a mouse modelling the knockout of Iqsec2.

Project title:

Investigating how mutations in IQSEC2 cause intellectual disability and severe early onset seizures in children using a mouse modelling the knockout of Iqsec2.

Chief Investigator:

Associate Professor Cheryl Shoubridge

Funding Amount:

$65,000

Recipient:

The University of Adelaide

Overview:

Intellectual disability (ID) is frequent in the population with as many as 1 in every 50 people affected. The cost to Australia of ID is estimated at $14 billion annually. Children that have mutations in the IQSEC2 gene have substantial limitations in intellectual functioning and present with autistic traits and early onset seizures. We have generated a novel mouse model with complete knockout of Iqsec2. Our study will harness this powerful resource to investigate the role of this intellectual disability gene on the development and function of the brain at the cellular and molecular level.

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PANDORA Cohort Wave 1 – assessment of the impact of maternal diabetes on child development [ECR]

Project title:

PANDORA Cohort Wave 1 – assessment of the impact of maternal diabetes on child development

Chief Investigator:

Dr Angela Titmuss

Funding Amount:

$35,000

Recipient:

Menzies School of Health Research

Overview:

This project explores the child health consequences of Type 2 Diabetes in pregnancy and gestational diabetes mellitus, in the context of a diabetes epidemic in the Indigenous population. This will inform design of future interventions to prevent the intergenerational cycle of disease within this high risk population. The project will examine the health and developmental outcomes of 18 to 42 month old Indigenous and non-Indigenous children, born to mothers with and without diabetes in pregnancy (DIP).

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New treatment for childhood leukaemia

Project title:

New treatment for childhood leukaemia

Chief Investigator:

Professor Shudong Wang

Funding Amount:

$75,000

Recipient:

University of South Australia

Overview:

Mixed lineage leukaemia (MLL) is the most aggressive blood cancer in infants and paediatric patients. No effective treatment is available to patients affecting by the disease. MLL is characterized by the presence of multiple fusion proteins that stimulate transcriptional elongation of MLL related leukemic genes. Cyclin-dependent kinase 9 (CDK9) controls the transcriptional elongation. Blocking CDK9 activity by our innovative CDK9 inhibitor induces MLL cells death. This project offers a CDK9 inhibitor drug candidate as a new, effective and safe treatment for childhood leukaemia.

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Investigating causes of congenital heart disease using a mouse model with great artery and cardiac outflow tract defects [ECR]

Project title:

Investigating causes of congenital heart disease using a mouse model with great artery and cardiac outflow tract defects

Chief Investigator:

Dr Sophie Wiszniak

Funding Amount:

$35,000

Recipient:

University of South Australia

Overview:

Eight babies are born with a heart defect everyday in Australia, which equates to 1% of all births, and is the leading cause of infant mortality and morbidity. We have recently discovered cardiac outflow tract, great artery, arterial valve and ventricular septum defects in Nedd4 knockout mice, which are reminiscent of the congenital heart defects seen in children. This mouse model will help us to understand the mechanistic processes controlling heart development, with the aim to improve diagnosis and provide new therapies for these highly prevalent disorders.

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Preventing childhood methotrexate chemotherapy-induced bone loss by blocking the aggravated pro-osteoclastogenic cytokine – NF-kB signalling

Project title:

Preventing childhood methotrexate chemotherapy-induced bone loss by blocking the aggravated pro-osteoclastogenic cytokine – NF-kB signalling

Chief Investigator:

Professor Cory Xian

Funding Amount:

$75,000

Recipient:

University of South Australia

Overview:

Whilst chemotherapy of major childhood cancers has a 75% cure rate, it causes chronic bone loss and higher fracture risks. Recently in rats treated with methotrexate (MTX, most commonly used in childhood oncology and bone marrow transplants), we observed more bone-resorptive cells engaging in bone resorption which is due to increased activation of transcription factor NF-kB signalling. Here we examine bone protective effects of a natural NF-kB inhibitor in our MTX model. This work will potentially lead to a preventative strategy for ensuring bone health for children during and after MTX chemo.

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