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Research News
The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute has welcomed the news that it is one of the three main partners in a $20-million genetic screening research study. The Mackenzie’s Mission project will screen about 10,000 couples to see if they are carriers of a genetic condition that could be passed on to a child. The national research network Australian Genomics will administer the project in partnership with the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, the University of NSW and the University of Western Australia. Mackenzie’s Mission is the first project under the Federal Government’s $500 million Genomics Health Futures Mission - part of the Australian Government’s Medical Research Future Fund. Ten thousand volunteer couples who are thinking of having a baby or are in the early stages of pregnancy will be screened for about 500 genetic conditions during the three-year study. Recruitment for those couples will begin towards the end of 2019 and will...
Research News
New research has found that a large percentage of Australian eight to 12 year olds are being bullied and/or experiencing emotional difficulties – and these children are falling behind their peers in numeracy and reading in the classroom. The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute’s Centre for Adolescent Health has produced the Student Wellbeing, Engagement and Learning across the Middle Years report for the Federal Department of Education and Training. According to the report, a substantial proportion of students in middle primary school (Years 3 to 5) are not tracking well. 20 per cent experience persistent emotional problems (like depression and anxiety), 20 per cent have behavioral problems, and around 10 per cent self-report low wellbeing. More than 20 per cent of children in Years 3 to 5 are also being bullied across two or even three years. The statistics in the report come from a longitudinal study of more than 1200...
Institute News
It is one of the rarest jobs in Australia – with only 230 employed nationwide – but genetic counselling has become a little better known this week as Genetic Counsellor Awareness Day was celebrated on Thursday, November 8. The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute has a not-for-profit genetic testing lab and clinical service, Victorian Clinical Genetics Services (VCGS), that carries out tests for hundreds of genetic conditions impacting adults and children. The principal genetic counsellor is Ivan Macciocca. “Genetic counsellors provide information, support and guidance to patients about genetic testing and genetic conditions, including inherited disorders,” Mr Macciocca said. “Genetic counsellors work in many areas of medicine, including paediatrics, prenatal, infertility, neurology, cancer and cardiology. Many counsellors work directly with patients, while others carry out research or work in public education or industry.” Lisette Curnow is one of the longest serving genetic counsellor with Victorian Clinical Genetics Services with 18 years...
Institute News
Lyndon Gallacher is an Associate Genetic Counsellor at VCGS. To mark Genetic Counsellor Awareness Day, held on 8 November, Lyndon has shared his work with us. Tell us about your work as a genetic counsellor I, like many genetic counsellors, have a number of roles. I work in clinic assisting families to understand the nature of genetic conditions or risk. My clinical role involves talking andlistening to people, giving information and helping them make meaning of that information, to facilitate their own decisions, be they medical, lifestyle or reproductive. Sometimes this also involves helping individuals cope with difficult news. I also work in clinical research as project manager for the Victorian Undiagnosed Disease Program, which uses genomic sequencing and overseas collaboration to try make diagnoses for patients and families with unknown genetic syndromes, often through gene discovery. What do you hope to achieve through the work that you’re doing? I...
Research News
Murdoch Children’s Research Institute researchers have linked a rare type of cancer – most prevalent in Asian and Polynesian populations - to a mutation in a protein that is central to immune system regulation. The research, published today in Nature Genetics, is the first to find that an inherited mutation in the HAVCR2 gene leading to a non-functioning T cell immunoglobulin mucin 3 (TIM-3) protein has been associated with a specific disease. Researchers from MCRI, University of Melbourne and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre worked with teams from France and Canada to examine samples from patients with subcutaneous panniculitislike T cell lymphoma (SPTCL), a rare type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that affects the skin. MCRI cancer researcher Dr Dong Anh Khuong Quang said that mutated TIM-3 is associated with cases of SPTCL where hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) - a condition that causes severe immune system dysregulation – is also present. The researchers found...
Institute News
Dr Ken Pang is a Clinician Scientist Fellow in Adolescent Medicine. Tell us about your work. As one of the Melbourne Children’s Clinician Scientist Fellows, I have dual roles. On the one hand, I work as a paediatrician with the Royal Children’s Hospital Gender Service where I care for trans and gender diverse children and adolescents. On the other hand, I work as a basic and clinical researcher. My basic research previously focused on two main areas: first, identifying what the so-called “junk DNA” was actually doing in our bodies and, second, understanding how our immune system fights viral infections. Meanwhile, my clinical research - which has become the main focus of my work since moving to the MCRI - centres on improving health outcomes for trans and gender diverse children and adolescents. What are you hoping to achieve through the work that you’re doing/what is your ideal goal? My...
Research News
Severely unsettled babies with sleeping, crying and feeding problems at the age of one are ten times more likely to have mental health problems during childhood, a new Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) study has found. Presenting her work at the Sleep DownUnder Conference in Brisbane today, project lead Dr Fallon Cook said the findings provide strong evidence that poor mental health begins in infancy for some children. "We found that babies with severely unsettled sleep, excessive crying, feeding difficulties, mood swings and tantrums at the age of one are ten times more likely to have mental health difficulties during childhood," Dr Cook said. "These babies are also more likely to have delayed language development and reduced academic achievement." However she was quick to reassure families where the babies have sleep issues in isolation. "Parents with a baby who has sleep problems but no other difficult behaviours can be reassured...
Research News
Melbourne researchers have released a report on World Mental Health Day (October 10), explaining that while self-harm predominately occurs during adolescence, it should never be considered ‘just a passing phase’ because it is associated with an increased risk of mental health problems and suicide for at least a decade. Dr Rohan Borschmann, a researcher and psychologist at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the report’s lead author, said recent Australian findings suggest that approximately one in twelve people will engage in self-harm during their lives. “Friends and family of young people who self-harm should remember that, for many, this is potentially more than just a passing phase,” Dr Borschmann said. “We know that a history of self-harm during adolescence is a strong predictor of later mental health problems, including suicide.” The paper ‘Self-harm and Suicide in Young People’ is co-authored with Dr Shilpa Aggarwal (Deakin University) and Prof George Patton...
Institute News
Dr Daniel Pellici, who will next month take up a group leader position with MCRI, has been awarded a $1.25 million, five-year, CSL Centenary Fellowship to research how to develop better vaccines against tuberculosis. Dr Pellici was presented with a CSL Centenary Fellows certificate at an awards ceremony at the Melbourne Arts Centre on Thursday, 11th October. His fellowship is funded through the $25 million CSL Centenary Fellowships program, which was established in 2016 to support mid-career Australian scientists to pursue world-class medical research. Dr Pellici, who is currently with the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity at the University of Melbourne, wants to recruit specialist white blood cells, known as ‘unconventional T-cells’ in the fight against tuberculosis. Dr Pellici explains that ‘unconventional T-cells’ are among the immune system’s first responders. They can kill infected cells and recruit other parts of the immune system to destroy the attackers. Until...
Research News
People living with cerebral palsy, carers and researchers have joined forces to create an Australian-first kit helping general practitioners better understand and support patients living with the developmental disability. The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute’s (MCRI) Neurodisability and Rehabilitation Group developed the CP for GPs resource after recognising that many GPs felt inadequately trained and resourced to help people with cerebral palsy maintain optimum health and function. Lead by MCRI’s Professor Dinah Reddihough, the kit comprises 16 fact sheets covering many facets of cerebral palsy care. She said while cerebral palsy was primarily a disorder of movement and posture, there were a range of associated impairments including visual, hearing, communication and cognitive difficulties. “There seemed to be very little information available about cerebral palsy specifically for GPs, yet the expectation on these practitioners is great and their time is limited,” “Therefore we felt that strategies needed to be put in place...