UNSW has awarded over $13 million in NHMRC clinical trial funding

UNSW Sydney researchers have received more than $13 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) for five clinical trials aimed at improving the health of Australians and Pacific Islanders.

The Senior Associate Dean (Research and Operations) at UNSW Medicine & Health, Professor Sean Emery, said the funding was essential to help researchers undertake innovative research that has the potential to improve quality of life and health .

“These grants will help our researchers develop new means of prevention and new treatments to help improve the quality of life for many people. I am proud of the researchers who have successfully completed this cycle and look forward to seeing the results of their studies,” said Professor Emery.

Bringing seniors and preschoolers together for mutual benefit

Associate Professor Ruth Peters of NeuRA and UNSW Science has been awarded $3.7 million to investigate intergenerational practice – the bringing together of older adults and preschoolers for mutual activities that target physical engagement , cognitive and social. This will be the first trial of its kind to research the ability of intergenerational practice to reduce frailty in older adults and improve children’s school readiness.

“While TV shows like ABC Retirement home for four-year-olds have shown the potential screen benefits of bringing older adults and preschoolers together, our trial will provide the first strong empirical evidence,” A/Prof. Peters said.

“Most of our older adults live in the community and most of our children attend kindergarten at least part-time. If the intergenerational practice is effective, it could be implemented to bring benefits to older and younger people in Australian communities nationwide.

Understanding health factors influencing dementia

Scientia Professor Henry Brodaty, co-director of the Center for Healthy Brain Aging (CHeBA) at UNSW Medicine & Health has been awarded $3.3 million to understand how generational health issues influence the prevalence of dementia. His research team will determine what changes have occurred in the next generation of Sydneys between 70 and 90 in terms of physical, psychological, social and brain health.

“Now is the time to prioritize dementia prevention, but in order to maximize the return on investment, we need to understand population-level changes in people’s exposure to risk factors and their uptake of strategies. evidence-based solutions for healthy living,” Prof Brodaty said. .

“Incremental change is not enough. This five-year study will give us a clear guide to generational changes in the physical, psychological, social and cognitive health of the population, as well as changes in risk factors and protective factors for poor health.

“Ultimately, we want to be able to help inform health service and policy planning – and better target prevention strategies for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias,” he said. -he declares.

Testing the cost-effectiveness of vaporized nicotine products for quitting smoking

Dr. Ryan Courtney of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Center (NDARC) at UNSW Sydney has received $2.7 million in funding to compare the cost-effectiveness of vaporized nicotine products ( VNP) compared to varenicline, the most effective Pharmaceutical Benefits Regimen (PBS) – single listed form of pharmacotherapy for smoking cessation.

This first global trial will test the cost-effectiveness of VNPs and their potential value in long-term abstinence from tobacco.

“The results of this trial have the potential to expand Australia’s current smoking cessation treatment toolkit and provide much-needed broader evidence to national and international health bodies,” said Dr Courtney.

“VNPs may present a more cost-effective treatment option with significant cost savings to community and health care systems.”

Improving perinatal health in Fiji

Dr Lucia Romani of the Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney has been awarded $2.15 million for a project to reduce adverse perinatal outcomes and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in Fiji.

The trial, which will be conducted in partnership with colleagues from Fiji’s Ministry of Health and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, will provide treatment for chlamydia and gonorrhea, STIs that are curable but can lead to adverse pregnancy outcomes, including stillbirth, early neonatal death, low birth weight and premature birth.

“Massive drug administration has proven to be a very effective method of controlling infection,” Dr. Romani said. “Fiji has a very high prevalence of STIs, including among pregnant women, and testing can be expensive and difficult to access for many people in Fiji. STIs are easy to treat and the drugs are safe, so by treating the whole community, we should be able to seriously reduce transmission and improve health outcomes for women, their babies and the wider community.

A new treatment to reduce strokes and dementia

Professor Mark Parsons of UNSW Medicine & Health has been awarded $1.5 million to study a new anti-inflammatory stroke prevention treatment to dramatically reduce strokes and dementia.

“More than one in four ischemic stroke survivors will have another stroke or heart attack within three years. Blood vessel inflammation appears to be the biggest “missing link” in identifying people at higher risk for stroke recurrence. This inflammation also leads to the development of ongoing brain damage after the initial stroke, including brain shrinkage that leads to dementia,” Professor Parsons said.

The trial, which is a world first, will assess the ability of the anti-inflammatory agent colchicine to prevent recurrent strokes and dementia.

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