The Health News – 1 September 2015

Overview:

• Researchers at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research received over $1 million in research equipment funding, out of a total funding pool of $5.5 million, in this year’s Cancer Institute NSW Research Equipment Grants. The results of the funding round were announced by NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner.

• A Federal Government funding deal to continue the operation of the Mersey Hospital in Tasmania’s north-west has been officially approved.

• When Amanda Ayliffe was just 34 years old she decided to find out whether she had a future or not. Having lost both her father and uncle to Alzheimer’s disease before the age of 60, she underwent a genetic test to discover whether it could also be her fate. The test came back positive.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 1st September 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster.

http://www.garvan.org.au/news-events/news/garvan-researchers-benefit-from-cancer-institute-nsw-equipment-funding

Researchers at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research received over $1 million in research equipment funding, out of a total funding pool of $5.5 million, in this year’s Cancer Institute NSW Research Equipment Grants. The results of the funding round were announced … by NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner.

Health News. Three Garvan teams received funding. The teams are coordinated by Dr Warren Kaplan ($495,000), Professor Chris Goodnow ($500,000) and Dr David Croucher ($51,983).

Dr Kaplan’s grant enables the purchase of several computer servers with large memory capacity. The servers will be used to analyse genomic information from cancer patients that is generated at the Kinghorn Centre for Clinical Genomics (KCCG).

Dr Kaplan says, “Because of the capacity of these servers, cancer researchers across NSW who carry out whole genome sequencing through KCCG will receive detailed analysis that is generated according to standards set by the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC).”

“In effect, this helps researchers doing whole genome sequencing to focus on cancer biology, rather than struggling with complex computing infrastructure.”

Prof Goodnow’s funding will go towards several pieces of equipment – a fluorescence-based cell sorter, an automated system for profiling individual cells, and a desktop genome sequencer.

Together, these will provide the infrastructure to undertake whole genome sequencing on individual cancer cells.

Dr Croucher will receive a multiplex plate reader that is capable of simultaneously measuring the activation state up to 50 individual proteins in a single volume.

The Cancer Institute NSW’s Research Equipment Grants provide substantial funding for key research platforms, core equipment and capacities to enhance the cancer research effort across NSW.

The grants support … greater levels of collaboration across the cancer research sector.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-08-31/tasmanian-mersey-hospital-funding-deal-approved/6736604

A Federal Government funding deal to continue the operation of the Mersey Hospital in Tasmania’s north-west has been officially approved.

The funding of almost $150 million will keep the hospital in Latrobe open for the next two years.

The Federal Health Minister Susan Ley has now signed off on the deal.

The Federal and State Governments came to an in-principle agreement in May but it took another three months to be ratified.

Doubt was raised over the certainty of the funding in recent weeks when it was included on a Federal Government cabinet minute.

It is the only fully federally-funded hospital in Australia.

Devonport Mayor and Mersey Hospital chairman, Steve Martin, cautiously welcomed the approval of the funding but said he was still concerned about the implications of the State Government’s Health White Paper.

The Federal Government will provide $148.5 million to the Tasmanian Government for the continued management and operation of the hospital.


Tasmanian Health Minister Michael Ferguson said the hospital was a vital part of health reforms announced earlier this year.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-08-31/alzheimers-families-help-drug-trial/6730470

When Amanda Ayliffe was just 34 years old she decided to find out whether she had a future or not.

Having lost both her father and uncle to Alzheimer’s disease before the age of 60, she underwent a genetic test to discover whether it could also be her fate.

The test came back positive.

Now, at 46, she has come to terms with the fact that her life has had to change. She has stopped working and had to tone down her social life.

She likens her symptoms to static on a television screen.

A big part of her acceptance is trying to break her family’s cycle of Alzheimer’s disease.

Amanda’s family is one of only about 20 families in Australia with a rare genetic variant that predisposes them to the degenerative disease.

Unlike some other illnesses both the genetic and general forms of Alzheimer’s are thought to work the same way.

Amanda is one of a handful of patients taking part in a trial of a promising treatment that is hoped could prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

In this study researchers are taking about 20 healthy Australians with the Alzheimer’s gene and administering a specially-designed drug.

It is part of a drug trial involving more than 200 people around the world.

The drug, which cannot be named because it is still being trialled, targets the build-up of amyloids in the brain.

It is hoped the drugs will bind to the amyloids and be flushed from the brain, and Alzheimer’s will not develop.

Using high-tech scans, researchers will compare the damage occurring in the brain over time through Alzheimer’s to what a healthy brain looks like.

Dr Bill Brooks from Neuroscience Research Australia said the drug was not a cure.

He said when he began research three decades ago there were no biomarkers or scans to detect Alzheimer’s, now there are both, and a potential preventative treatment.

Professor Chris Rowe from Austin Hospital said the reasearch would not have been possible without the generosity of families with the rare genetic strain.

For more information on the trial: http://www.austin.org.au/cognitiveresearch

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