Government awards Murdoch $1.25m for drugs research  

December 6, 2016

Researchers at Murdoch University have been awarded $1.25million in government funding to help reduce the number of people who experience adverse drug reactions (ADR).

Professor Elizabeth Phillips, Director of the Centre for Clinical Pharmacology and Infectious Diseases at IIID

Professor Elizabeth Phillips, Director of the Centre for Clinical Pharmacology and Infectious Diseases at IIID

ADRs present a considerable strain on healthcare providers around the world, accounting for about 6 per cent of in-patient hospital admissions at an annual cost of $136 billion.

Murdoch University’s Institute for Immunology and Infectious Diseases (IIID) aims to translate these findings into ways of significantly reducing the burden of ADRs through prediction and prevention.

The Australian Government’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) have awarded $1.25 million in funding for the four year study.

Professor Elizabeth Phillips, Director of the Centre for Clinical Pharmacology and Infectious Diseases at IIID, will lead the project as Chief Investigator.

She said: “Serious and life-threatening immunologically-mediated ADRs are driven largely by genetic factors and present both a physical and financial burden to patients, families and healthcare services around the world.

“Short-term, there is a significant risk of death and infectious complications; long-term, patients may suffer blindness, digestive, respiratory and reproductive complications, depression, anxiety, fear of taking drugs and shortened life-span.

“This funding will be used to develop a strategy which improves drug safety and guides ways to reduce ADRs, both to the individual patient and through safer drug design and development.”

The research team at IIID aims to provide strategies to predict which specific drugs are more likely to cause ADRs before they are approved for use in humans.

They are following important leads which suggest that the clue to why some patients carrying specific genetic risk factors develop severe immunologically-mediated ADRs lies in specific cellular and molecular signatures present in the skin of those affected.

The team expects these findings to translate into the development of sensitive and predictive blood tests that could detect the same molecular signatures they have found in the skin of diseased patients in the blood of patients before they take a drug.

This will represent an important breakthrough to determine which of the small fraction of patients carrying a genetic risk factor will develop a severe ADR.

Murdoch University was also successful in another seven NHMRC projects in collaboration with teams at other universities.

  • Dr David Palmer is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Arts and will take part in a $1.5m study which will examine a minimally invasive approach to managing early childhood dental health in Aboriginal pre-schoolers.
  • A $1.3m study to validate a screening tool for anxiety and depression in Aboriginal perinatal women, particularly in remote areas.
  • A $1.1m research project which will identify and quantify the links between stillbirths and deaths across regions and cultural groups, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
  • Associate Professor Mark Watson, Director of Laboratory Services at IIID, will take part in an $850,000 project on cancer immunology analysis of T-cell responses in thoracic malignancies.
  • Professor Stephen Wilton, Foundation Chair in Molecular Therapies at the Centre for Comparative Genomics, will join a research team who will study cellular shedding as therapeutic targets in diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Professor David Morrison, Murdoch University Deputy Vice Chancellor Research & Innovation, said: “This funding award from the Australian Government recognises the high quality research carried out here at Murdoch University.

“I’m immensely proud of our researchers and the work they’re doing to meet the challenges facing the world we live in.”

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Comments (One response)

Andrew Taggart December 8, 2016

Well done to all researchers
Murdoch is committed to solving some of the worlds most wicked problems
A good sample funded here.

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