Hon Kim Hames MB BS JP MLA

Hon Kim Hames MB BS JP MLA

Former Minister for Health; Tourism

    Clinical research could improve baby survival rate

    9/12/2015 5:00 PM
    • Four WA Health researchers to share in $933,000 of State Government funding
    • Latest round of funding supports research into child and adolescent health, diabetes, cancer, and managing the risk of infection and iron deficiency after major surgery 

    A WA Health clinician undertaking studies that could improve the survival rate of babies with leukaemia will be among four researchers to benefit from almost $1 million in State Government funding announced this evening.


    Rishi Sury Kotecha, a consultant in child and adolescent haematology and oncology at Princess Margaret Hospital, has been awarded one of four Department of Health/Raine Medical Research Foundation Clinician Research Fellowships.


    Health Minister Kim Hames congratulated Dr Kotecha and all the fellowship recipients, and said the grants program was important to help researchers backfill some of their clinical duties and devote more time to research.


    "Dr Kotecha will use his fellowship to investigate the optimal combination of drugs for treating young babies with leukaemia who, unlike older children with the condition, have a poor survival rate," Dr Hames said.


    "Children with leukaemia are given intensive chemotherapy and more than 90 per cent are cured but only 16 per cent of children diagnosed with the condition before three months of age survive."


    The Minister said Dr Kotecha's study would help find the most effective drug combination for treating infants, centring on three drugs identified from an evaluation of more than 100 as being the most effective in fighting leukaemia cells taken from babies.


    Other studies benefitting from this fourth round of the program include improved insulin delivery methods for type 1 diabetes sufferers, detection of early indicators and influences for tumours at risk of spreading, and the effects of iron and certain drugs in post-operative recovery.


    Now in its fourth year, the fellowship program is an alliance between the Department of Health and the Raine Medical Research Foundation. The program provides funding for up to three years and can be up to $150,000 a year, depending on the extent of the research proposal and the applicant's salary.


    Fact File

    • The largest private bequest for medical research in this State, the Raine Medical Research Foundation, was established at The University of Western Australia in 1957 to fund and support local medical research and has since allocated more than $36 million for research
    • Two recipients from previous fellowship rounds (Dr Christopher Blyth and Dr Thomas Snelling) have received National Health and Medical Research Council fellowships for 2016
    • One past fellowship recipient (Dr Aron Chakera) is now Director of Research at the Charles Gairdner Osborne Park Health Care Group
    • For more information, visit http://www.health.wa.gov.au

    Minister's office - 6552 5300


    Clinician Research Fellowship Round 4 recipients are:


    Dr Martin de Bock, Paediatric endocrinologist, Princess Margaret Hospital

    Closed loop insulin delivery for patients with type 1 diabetes in free living conditions.


    Patients with type 1 diabetes are dependent on receiving insulin. Over the past decade advances in technology have seen the advent of insulin pumps that can deliver insulin continuously, and also glucose sensors that can measure glucose levels continuously.


    A closed loop system is where the information from the glucose sensor is communicated to the insulin pump, which then changes the amount of insulin delivered automatically in order to keep blood glucose levels in check.  Dr de Bock aims to study how closed loop insulin delivery can improve the lives of patients with type 1 diabetes and their families in the community.


    Dr Rishi Sury Kotecha, Consultant in child and adolescent haematology and oncology, Princess Margaret Hospital

    Combinatorial therapeutics in high-risk infant acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.


    Children diagnosed with leukaemia receive intensive chemotherapy and more than 90 per cent are cured.  Sadly, only 16 per cent of very young children survive when diagnosed with leukaemia before three months of age.  Better therapies are desperately needed for these infants.


    Dr Kotecha has tested more than 100 cancer drugs and identified three novel agents to be highly effective against leukaemia cells from babies.  He will evaluate novel drug combinations and test them in model systems, such that they can be fast-tracked to bring successful ones to the clinic without delay.


    Dr Annette Lim, Medical oncologist, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital

    Mechanisms that facilitate the metastatic potential of oral cancer.


    Current clinical tools fail to identify high risk oral cancers at risk of distant spread, with 50 per cent of patients dying despite aggressive treatments. This collaborative multidisciplinary project aims to identify key mechanisms that tumours use to spread throughout the body.


    Dr Lim will examine and profile exosomes, which are seeds of tumour secreted into the body fluids, to determine whether cancer at risk of spreading can be molecularly detected in blood and saliva.  She will also investigate the contribution of the immune system and molecular mutations to a tumour's ability to spread.


    Dr Edmond O'Loughlin, Anaesthetist, Fiona Stanley Hospital

    Project 1 - IronNOF - Intravenous Iron to reduce transfusion and improve post-operative haemoglobin in patients with fractured Neck Of Femur

    Project 2 - PADDI - The Perioperative ADministration of Dexamethasone and Infection


    Project 1 - Anaemia is common in elderly patients with hip fractures.  Both anaemia and blood transfusion are potentially harmful.  This trial investigates the potential role of intravenous iron given before the end of surgery to reduce blood transfusion and improve outcomes.

    Project 2 - Dexamethasone is a commonly used anti-nausea drug that also can improve pain relief and reduce swelling.  It also potentially alters the way the body's immune system works. This study will look at the effect of dexamethasone on rates of infection after major surgery.