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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 Pellicci, 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 Pellicci 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 Pellicci, 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 Pellicci 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...
Institute News
A study looking at how Aboriginal children use English at school is among the projects to be showcased at an Indigenous health conference in Melbourne on Monday, 24th September. Former Governor-General Quentin Bryce will join the discussion at the Indigenous health research symposium. The one-day conference will focus on eight innovative health projects involving partnerships between Aboriginal communities, health services and researchers, including the study of children’s language development. Murdoch Children’s Research Institute’s (MCRI) Professor Stephanie Brown, the Lead Researcher for the study, said that prior to European settlement, there were at least 250 distinct Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language groups and multilingualism was the norm for children. “Our research is charting new ground in understanding how early-life social and cultural experiences shape Aboriginal children’s language development and use of oral language in early primary school,” Prof Brown said. Researchers at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute are following up...
Research News
Australian researchers have partnered with researchers in the Solomon Islands to advance the fight against neglected tropical diseases in the Pacific by proving that it is possible to safely treat large populations for trachoma and scabies simultaneously. For the study an entire population (26,000-plus) in the Choiseul Province of Solomon Islands was given antibiotics to treat these highly infectious neglected tropical diseases. The research, a collaboration between Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), the Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney, the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and Medical Services, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine is published in the latest issue of Lancet Global Health. Professor Andrew Steer, from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the University of Melbourne, said administering the two antibiotics together had significant advantages – reducing costs and the burden on health services and the community; and ultimately leading to better disease control. “We know...
Research News
Distinct brain patterns can help explain variations in the way children present with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), paving a course towards improved treatment and support for the common neurodevelopmental disorder. Using neuroimaging techniques, The Children’s Attention Project, run at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), found that certain patterns across the whole brain appear to be linked to ADHD symptoms, development and cognition. The findings, published online in the American Journal of Psychiatry , suggest that the different ways ADHD presents in children may stem from a combination of factors that have specific biological foundations in the brain. Lead investigator Associate Professor Tim Silk from Deakin University’s School of Psychology said that to improve treatments or predict the likely progression of ADHD it is important to understand what is happening in the brain. “We still don’t know what the underlying mechanisms are in ADHD, but it is quite clear...
Research News
Clinicians need to ask questions about drinking in pregnancy to ensure cases of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) are properly diagnosed, a Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) expert has warned. Speaking ahead of an International FASD Awareness Day event on 13 September, MCRI Principal Research Fellow and University of Melbourne Honorary Professor of Paediatrics Jane Halliday described the disorder as a hidden condition. “People can find it difficult to ask about alcohol use in pregnancy because of all the blame and stigma associated with putting a diagnosis of FASD on a child,” Prof. Halliday said. “Diagnosis is so important, not only to better support the child, but also to support and inform the mother and family and reduce the risk of it recurring in future pregnancies if drinking continues.” More than 240 clinicians, service providers, researchers, carers and families have registered to attend the International FASD Awareness Day event, which...