The Wesfarmers Centre is pleased to announce the successful applications for the 2017 Round 2 Wesfarmers Centre Seed Funding.
The Wesfarmers Centre Scientific Committee collectively scored each grant using the NHMRC project grant criteria, and awarded funds only where it was confident it would lead to a highly competitive grant application (weighted score >5.0).
Lea-Ann Kirkham | University of Western Australia Steve Tristram (University of Tasmania), Roger Latham (University of Tasmania), Jeff Lauzon-Joset, Naomi Scott, Deborah Strickland. Awarded $28,862.56.
Evaluation of an antibiotic-producing bacterial strain to prevent ear infections
Globally, ear infections are the main reason for a child to visit a doctor, be given antibiotics, and undergo surgery. Annually, there are ~709 million cases of ear infection, with ~31 million chronic infections and ~21,000 deaths from complications. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have the highest recorded rates of ear infection in the world, which the World Health Organization declared "a national emergency that requires urgent attention". Chronic ear infection is associated with hearing loss, which significantly impacts on learning and education. The major bacterium that causes ear infections is known as NTHi. There are currently no vaccines that completely protect against ear disease from NTHi. Our research team is looking into other approaches to try to prevent ear disease from this pathogen.
We have found a strain of bacteria that inhibits NTHi growth in the laboratory by producing a novel bacteriocin (a new type of antibiotic). We now want to test whether this strain can prevent NTHi colonisation and ear disease in our mouse model. If this works, we will then seek funding to assess this strain in clinical trials with the ultimate goal of providing a new therapy to reduce the global burden of ear disease.
Hannah Moore Asha Bowen, Roz Walker, Chris Blyth, Trish Campbell (Doherty Institute), Jodie McVernon (Doherty Institute), Steven Tong (Doherty Institute), Parveen Fathima, Yue Wu, Jonathan Carapetis. Awarded $27,474.00.
Identifying the determinants of hospitalisations due to skin infection in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children in WA
Aboriginal children are the world leaders in impetigo prevalence (median pooled prevalence 45%) and number 3 in the world for scabies prevalence (May MJA 2016). Reducing this burden of skin infections will have important impacts on overall child health in WA and throughout Australia. Aboriginal children experience very high hospital admission rates for skin infections, with admission rates >15 times higher in Aboriginal children aged less than 16 years compared with non-Aboriginal children of the same age. Hospital admissions for skin infection affect almost 3% of the birth cohort in WA (1996 - 2012) and are likely to be high in other Australian jurisdictions. Although skin infections are likely to be underreported, the high rates of skin infection related admissions in children, especially infants aged less than 12 months and Aboriginal children of all ages, warrants further investigation to identify the perinatal factors that predispose children to a hospitalisation with skin infection. This work is important as our modelling collaborators in Melbourne are starting to construct mathematical models of the transmission of Group A Streptococcal disease, of which skin infections are a major component. Investigating the perinatal determinants of skin infection related hospitalisation, the age of first onset of hospitalisation for skin infections and how they differ between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children and between geographical regions will inform the progress of this modelling. Identification of perinatal factors and the age of onset of infection are two important factors in building the model, with the overall aim of identifying strategies to reduce the high burden of skin infection in Australian Aboriginal populations. It is likely that this will also be informative to countries in Oceania where tackling skin infections is also a high priority.