A Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI) led project trialling whether giving antibiotics by mouth works just as well as IV treatment for children with bone and joint infections has received a funding boost.

The project led by MCRI Associate Professor Amanda Gwee was awarded $1.23 million from the 2021 Rare Cancers, Rare Diseases and Unmet Need grant program funded under the Medical Research Futures Fund (MRFF), announced by Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.

Associate Professor Gwee said bone and joint infections, which were common in children and could lead to severe disability, have always been treated with IV antibiotics given through the vein for a few days followed by oral antibiotic treatment.

"The IV antibiotic treatment approach to bone and joint infections has not changed over the past 40 years despite the treatment being invasive, associated with potential risks (line-related complications) and longer hospital stays," she said.

"This research will find out if giving antibiotics just by mouth works as well as the current treatment. If it does, it would prevent the risks of giving antibiotics through the vein and, importantly, allow children to have all their treatment at home." 

The randomised controlled trial will be run across six paediatric centres involving 214 children aged 1-18 years.

The project will also compare the proportion of children with recurrent disease and complications, adverse treatment effects, quality of life, cost-effectiveness, and determine the precise antibiotic dose required to best treat bone and joint infections. 

Associate Professor Gwee said the trial had the potential to improve the health and wellbeing of children by challenging the costly and potentially harmful belief that IV therapy was required for all invasive infections.  

Professor Nigel Curtis, Professor Franz Babl, Associate Professor Catherine Satzke and Dr Anneke Grobler are also part of the MCRI research team.

The grants, awarded to 27 projects, aim to increase clinical trial activity in Australia for rare cancers and rare diseases by supporting new, high-quality research and encouraging new and innovative clinical trials.