Sunday, 25 September 2016

Big grants awarded in the national blood sector research pilot

Members of the Transfusion Research Unit (TRU) have been awarded two major grants from the National Blood Authority as part of Australia’s national blood sector research pilot.

The TRU is a multidisciplinary team of researchers responsible for managing nine national registries as well as clinical trials and other projects which focus on the treatment of important blood disorders and conditions requiring major transfusion support.

Associate Professor Erica Wood, Dr Zoe McQuilten and Neil Waters from TRU, along with colleagues at the Australasian Leukaemia and Lymphoma Group and University of Oxford, have received funding of $394,958 to conduct a pilot study of prophylactic oral antibiotics compared with intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg, a product made from donated plasma) to prevent infections in adult patients with haematologic malignancies.

The RATIONAL (role of antibiotic therapy or IVIg on infections in haematology) study, will take place at five hospitals in Australia and New Zealand. The three-year project also includes a systematic review and an international survey of clinical practice in this setting.

“Many patients with blood cancers such as myeloma and lymphoma receive IVIg in an attempt to prevent serious infections. The RATIONAL study will provide important information to help develop a large study to give us a better understanding of the current role of IVIg in this context. We want to know whether giving oral antibiotics is a safe, useful and less expensive alternative for some of these patients,” said Associate Professor Wood.

The second grant was awarded to a group of researchers led by Professor David Burgner from Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, along with colleagues from Sydney Children’s Hospital, the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, and Professor Allen Cheng and Associate Professor Erica Wood from Monash University. The funding of $246,645 is to support research into the epidemiology and management of Kawasaki disease.

Kawasaki disease is an uncommon but important disease that affects young children. Although most cases are relatively mild, causing fever and rash, the disease can occasionally affect the arteries supplying the heart. Prompt treatment with IVIg is the mainstay of therapy for this condition.

"We think that diagnosis of this disease is becoming more common in recent years with increasing awareness. This will be the first national study of the epidemiology and management of Kawasaki disease since the early 1990s," said Professor Cheng.

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