9 Sept 2022

Congratulations to Dr Emily Edwards on AIFA grant award

Dr Emily Edwards has won a $30,000 grant from AIFA for
research on Primary Immunodeficiencies and SARS-CoV-2

Congratulations to Dr Emily Edwards on winning the Allergy and Immunology Foundation of Australasia (AIFA) Primary Immunodeficiencies (PID) Clinical Research Grant of $30,000 (supported by CSL Behring) this year. Emily is an active advocate for PID as AusPIPS Vice President.

Dr Edwards' grant is titled, "Antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in immunoglobulin products and their capacity to augment immunity in immunodeficient patients", and she leads a team including researchers from Alfred Health, Monash University and the Burnet Institute, with collaboration from the patient organisation AusPIPs and the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood. 

Dr Edwards said, "Many patients receive immunoglobulin (Ig) product to replace the antibodies they lack, in order to reduce the number and severity of infections. 

"While we know that SARS-CoV-2-specific antibodies are present in Ig products derived from internationally donated plasma this information is nor available for product generated from Australian plasma donations."

As many patients rely on products derived from Australian plasma, this information is important especially considering the current high COVID-19 infection rates in Australia. Additionally, evidence that immunodeficient patients respond to COVID-19 vaccination is limited as it is usually impossible to measure the vaccination responses of Ig product recipients.

This study measures the levels and protective capacity of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in Australian Ig products, and in PID patient plasma after COVID-19 vaccination. This provides the unique opportunity to measure patient responses to COVID-19 vaccination, before antibodies to this vaccine were present in product. 

The team will also compare patient antibody levels to healthy individuals to determine whether patients’ responses to vaccination are impaired. The investigator team led by Dr Edwards includes researchers from Monash University (Prof Menno van Zelm), Alfred Health (Dr Julian Bosco and Prof Robyn O'Hehir), and the Burnet Institute (Prof Heidi Drummer and Prof Mark Hogarth), with collaboration from the patient organisation AusPIPs and the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood.

See full story on the AIFA website.

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