Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Monash research to improve survival rates of premature babies

Dr Nold
MIMR-PHI Institute and Adjunct School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS) researcher Dr Claudia Nold has been awarded a prestigious Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellowship in the charity’s latest funding announcements.

A pharmacist by training with broad expertise in cytokine biology, inflammation and immunology, Dr Nold will use the project funding to further her research into interventional immunology in diseases of the neonate.

“High mortality and morbidity in premature babies largely arises from three diseases that modern neonatology struggles to prevent or treat,” said Dr Nold. “I plan to examine their molecular mechanisms to pave the way to therapies.”

One of the diseases Dr Nold will investigate is bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), a severe chronic lung disease that causes pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) in 25 per cent of BPD patients.
“PAH slowly destroys the babies’ right heart and has a 2-year survival of less than 50 per cent,” said Dr Nold.

Intracranial haemorrhage (ICH) is another common disease in very preterm babies, with a high mortality rate and most survivors suffer mental retardation.

“The cause of ICH in premature infants is immaturity of cerebral blood vessels and highly variable blood pressure, added Dr Nold. “Together with a likely, but yet unknown impairment of coagulation, these factors lead to intracranial bleeding.”

In a world-first longitudinal study of poorly charted preterm immune and coagulation systems, Dr Nold aims to find biomarkers to aid early diagnosis of these critical diseases.

“I hope to develop new therapies that improve the lives of tiny patients and their families, and relieve strained health care budgets.”

The largest non-government funder of cardiovascular research in Australia, the Heart Foundation invests in biomedical, clinical, public health and health services research which investigates the causes, diagnosis, management and prevention of cardiovascular disease and related disorders.

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