Research to help identify which children will develop asthma and tailor more specific treatments is one of five projects by researchers at The University of Western Australia awarded almost $4.2 million in funding.
The Federal Government this week announced $264 million in funding to support 258 health and medical research projects through the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Ideas Grants.
Professor of Paediatrics Peter Le Souef, from UWA’s Medical School and the Wal-yan Respiratory Research Centre at Telethon Kids Institute, will lead a team to identify specific changes in blood cells and inside the nose of children who wheeze, to help predict who will go on to develop asthma.
Professor Archa Fox and Dr Yu suk Choi, from UWA’s School of Human Sciences, will lead an investigation into how cancer cells adapt when they squeeze through tight spaces, to help understand genetic regulation in cancer, with an aim to prevent cancer metastasis.
Associate Professor Nathan Pavlos, from UWA’s School of Biomedical Sciences and Head of the Bone Biology & Disease Laboratory, will lead a team to evaluate the therapeutic benefit of a new molecule that blocks bone destruction while helping build new bone as an alternative treatment for diseases such as osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
“Diseases affecting the bones and joints are devastating to physical function and human health and often feature bone destruction by osteoclasts — giant bone dissolving cells — however, treatments for these diseases remain inadequate,” Associate Professor Pavlos said.
Dr Timothy Barnett, from the School of Biomedical Sciences and Head of the Strep A Pathogenesis and Diagnostics team at the Wesfarmers Centre of Vaccines and Infectious Diseases at Telethon Kids Institute, will lead a project examining ways of reducing penicillin failure for strep throat and to improve treatments.
“Strep throat is a common bacterial infection caused by Group A Streptococcus bacteria and, while it’s sensitive to penicillin, 10 to 20 per cent of infections recur after treatment,” Dr Barnett said.
“This project will define a new mechanism of antibiotic resistance used by Strep A to resist treatment with penicillin and other antibiotics and develop a test to detect resistant infections at the point of care.”
Associate Professor Scott Wilson, also from the School of Biomedical Sciences, will research how certain regions of the human genome affect bone diseases such as osteoporosis and what can be done to moderate the effect.