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Centenary Institute - Medical Research
Centenary Institute - Medical Research

World Health Organisation (WHO) visits Centenary

Above: Prof Mathew Vadas AO, Executive Director of Centenary, Medical Officer Kefas Samson of the WHO Global TB Programme, Geneva, and Dr Richard Stapledon Chair of the rGLC, WHO Western Pacific Region meet at the Consultant Training for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis.

Emergent drug resistant, especially multi-drug and rifampicin resistant tuberculosis threatens the health security of the Western Pacific region.

In 2017, there were an estimated 114,000 incident cases of multi-drug and rifampicin resistant tuberculosis in the region of whom less than 25 per cent received adequate treatment.

We are delighted to have representatives from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the regional Green Light Committee (rGLC) with us in Sydney joining with the NHMRC Tuberculosis Centre of Research Excellence (TB CRE) to host a three-day training program.

The Western Pacific Regional Office of World Health Organization End TB unit and the regional Green Light Committee (rGLC) is expanding its pool of consultants providing countries with technical assistance on the programmatic management of drug-resistant tuberculosis (PMDT).

Featuring world-leading experts in the field of tuberculosis control and management the training program is being held at Centenary to develop an adequate and competent pool of regional consultants to provide technical assistance for the programmatic management of multi-drug and rifampicin resistant tuberculosis in the Western Pacific Region.

Tuberculosis occurs in every part of the world. In 2017, the largest number of new TB cases occurred in the South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions, with 62% of new cases, followed by the African region, with 25% of new cases. Ending the TB epidemic by 2030 is among the health targets of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. WHO has gone one step further and set a 2035 target of 95% reduction in deaths and a 90% decline in TB incidence – similar to current levels in low TB incidence countries today.

WHO MDR-TB Training at Centenary Insttitute
Consultants and Trainers who attended the MDR-TB Training held by World Health Organisation and TB-CRE. The three day event was hosted by Centenary Institute.

Read the WHO Media Release here.

Aspirin to fight an expensive global killer infection – drug-resistant Tuberculosis

Research led by the Centenary Institute in Sydney has found a brand new target for treating drug-resistant tuberculosis; our scientists have uncovered that the tuberculosis bacterium hijacks platelets from the body’s blood clotting system to weaken our immune systems.

Tuberculosis is far from eradicated around the world and still infects more than 1,400 people per year in Australia. Antibiotic resistant tuberculosis is particularly deadly and expensive to treat, costing up to $250,000 to treat a single case in Australia. Scientists at the Centenary Institute have been working on new ways to treat tuberculosis by increasing the effectiveness of the immune system.

There are over 1.2 million Australians living with latent tuberculosis, a non-infectious form of TB that puts them at risk of developing the active disease. “Our study provides more crucial evidence that widely available aspirin could be used to treat patients with severe tuberculosis infection and save lives,” says Dr Hortle.

Video 1 – Green platelets zooming around the vasculature of a zebrafish embryo. Note some platelets stick to red macrophages infected by blue bacteria.

Video 2 – Zoomed in version of video 1 with visible blood vessels. Green platelets sticking to red blood vessels next to sites of infection by blue bacteria. Pathogenic platelets are the green cells that stick next to the bacteria for a few minutes.


Read the full Press Release.

See the full paper in The Journal of Infectious Diseases.

Learn more about this Research Laboratories work.

Antioxidants help contain killer bug – Tuberculosis

Image above: Still image shows red inflammatory immune cells with the blue Tuberculosis bacteria.

Tuberculosis is the single leading cause of death from infectious disease around the world and infects someone every three seconds, causing life-long damage to the lungs.

Research led by Centenary has identified a powerful tool to fight tuberculosis. In collaboration with scientists at the University of Sydney, our team has shown antioxidant drugs both kill mycobacteria, the cause of infection, and keep the immune system from causing too much damage through out-of-control inflammation.

“Tuberculosis is one of the most common inflammatory diseases, and it is the immune systems that do most of the damage to the body during infection,” says senior author and Head of Centenary’s Immune-Vascular Interactions Laboratory, Dr Stefan Oehlers.

Video above: Taken using fluorescent microscopy shows the red inflammatory immune cells attacking blue bacteria outlined by green blood.

Read the full media release

View the full paper

Tuberculosis Research Centre marks new beginnings

The Centenary Institute’s Professor Warwick Britton AO has hosted the informal launch of the new NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Tuberculosis Control on Both Sides of Our Border (TB-CRE).

In August, the TB-CRE secured $2.5 million in NHMRC funding to operate as an interdisciplinary centre of research excellence over five years.

Held at the Centenary Institute last week, all of the Centre’s Chief and Associate Investigators gathered to plan the future directions of the TB-CRE, ahead of its formal launch at the 2019 TB-CRE Symposium in May.

Diagnostic tests and a vaccine for tuberculosis have been available for more than 100 years, while effective drugs have been available for more than 60 years.

Despite this, tuberculosis remains the world’s deadliest infectious disease.

The TB-CRE is focused on:

  1. Finding and treating tuberculosis.
  2. Preventing the spread of tuberculosis.
  3. Combating emerging drug resistance.
  4. Supporting vulnerable populations (for example, children and adolescents).

You can read more about the TB-CRE on its website.

Federal Government recognises Centenary excellence

Three researchers from the Centenary Institute have been awarded grants under a $200 million scheme developed by the Federal Government’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). The process is highly-competitive, with only 320 medical research projects nationwide achieving success.

Head of Centenary’s Molecular Cardiology Program and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Cardiologist, Professor Chris Semsarian, has been awarded a Practitioner Fellowship, which will include $585,000 in funding for five years from 2019.

Professor Semsarian is working to identify new genes in families with inherited heart disease and sudden cardiac death by using state-of-the-art whole genome sequencing, with the aim of improving patient care and outcomes.

“It is a tremendous honour to receive such a prestigious award, which recognises the wonderful and dedicated researchers in my team. We are all united by the ultimate goal to improve the care of our families with life-threatening inherited heart diseases,” says Professor Semsarian.

Dr Jodie Ingles, Head of Centenary’s Clinical Cardiac Genetics Group in the Molecular Cardiology Program, has been awarded a Career Development Fellowship from 2019-2022 worth $437,000.

Dr Ingles’ ongoing research is focused on improving our understanding about how genetics influences heart disease, how to better provide psychological support to families after sudden cardiac death in the young, and developing tools to help patients make more informed decisions about their care.

While Professor Warwick Britton, Head of Centenary’s Tuberculosis Research Program, has been awarded nearly $2.5 million to fund a new Centre for Research Excellence in Tuberculosis Control on both sides of our border (TB-CRE).

Tuberculosis is currently the deadliest infectious disease worldwide, with about 1.7 million deaths in 2016. The fresh funding by the NHMRC will allow a core group of Australian researchers to continue working towards controlling the disease not just domestically, but within our region.

“This CRE is important in forging the collaborative research and training that is essential to reach the WHO goals of improved tuberculosis control,” says Professor Britton.

See the full list of projects funded by the latest round of NHMRC Grants here.

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