14 May 2021

Congratulations to MRFF grant winners David Kaye, Andrew Wei, Heather Cleland, Orla Morrissey, Joe Doyle

L-R: MRFF awardees David Kaye, Andrew Wei, Heather Cleland, Orla Morrissey and Joe Doyle

Five researchers in the Central Clinical School had their Medical Research Future Funds (MRFF) grants announced in 2021's federal government budget. Congratulations to Associate Professor Heather Cleland (Surgery), Professor Orla Morrissey, Associate Professor Joseph Doyle (Infectious Diseases), Associate Professor Andrew Wei (Australian Centre for Blood Diseases) and Professor David Kaye (Medicine/Baker). See below for detail of projects.

MRFF Clinical Trials Activity, Rare Cancer, Rare Diseases and Unmet Need program

Professor Erica Wood (CIA, in the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine) and Professor Orla Morrissey (CIB)
Addressing unmet needs for patients with blood cancers: Immunoglobulin or antibiotics to prevent infection in the RATIONALISE clinical trial: $2,490,422
Patients with blood cancers, with immune deficiency from low antibody levels and disease or treatment factors, are at risk of life-threatening infection. Immunoglobulins (Ig) made from plasma can supplement antibody levels. Government criteria recommend stopping Ig therapy in stable patients, but with no evidence for when or how to do so. RATIONALISE will provide new evidence to improve patient outcomes, reduce infection risks and costs, and make better use of blood products for the community.

Associate Professor Andrew Wei
INTERCEPT (Investigating Novel Therapy to target Early Relapse and Clonal Evolution as Pre-emptive Therapy in AML): a multi-arm, precision-based, recursive, platform trial: $4,735,398
Acute myeloid leukemia is a rare and lethal blood cancer with limitless potential to evolve resistance. New technologies allow early detection of molecular “fingerprints” of returning disease. The researchers propose an international research team to conduct a multi-arm, precision-based platform trial aimed at increasing and extending the duration of patient response and survival using novel combination options. INTERCEPT will suppress and eradicate relapse before the patient becomes clinically unwell.

Associate Professor Heather Cleland
Third Degree Burn Wound Closure using Engineered Skin- Phase I Clinical Trial: $2,363,239
Over 40% of burns survivors live with pain and disability caused by scarring of skin grafts and their donor sites. Development of a reliable skin graft substitute to be tested in this study will save lives and improve the quality of life for survivors of severe burn injury by minimisation of the need to use patients’ own unburned skin to graft burns. The researchers will treat patients with severe burns with bioengineered skin developed in our laboratory and grown from small samples of their own skin.

Professor David Kaye
The Artificial Heart Frontiers Program: $999,570
Over 23 million people suffer from heart failure around the globe, yet only six thousand a year receive a donor heart. Many patients turn to artificial hearts: large, noisy devices that too frequently fail, or confine the patient to hospital. Other patients have no options at all. Now, the Artificial Heart Frontiers Program will bring a new generation of artificial hearts to market. Our innovative implants are small, patient-friendly and reliable - outlasting all existing alternatives. They are powerful enough for an adult, yet small enough for a child. They are quiet, portable, and respond to active lifestyles, allowing patients to return to their families and jobs. This technology will revolutionise the lives of patients with heart failure.

MRFF Efficient Use of Existing Medicines program

Professor Tom Snelling (CIA University of Sydney which is also administering the grant), Associate Professor Joseph Doyle (CIB, Central Clinical School), also includes Dr Alisa Pedrana (CIE, SPHPM). MOTIVATE C: The Methodical evaluation and Optimisation of Targeted IncentiVes for Accessing Treatment of Early stage hepatitis C: $2,126,776
Hepatitis C treatment is now well tolerated and highly effective, yet uptake in Australia remains low. Australia is trying to eliminate hepatitis C, which means interventions are required to increase treatment uptake of those infected with the virus. Financial incentives offer a simple, yet potentially effective, solution. This study will evaluate the effect of random allocation of financial incentives to improve treatment uptake in patients with hepatitis C.

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