Monday, 7 September 2015

Monash cures fatal disease

Data showed that S-sulfocysteine levels rapidly
improve once treatment commences.
Monash Health’s pioneering treatment for babies with a disease that was once universally fatal has been validated by research published last Friday in the prestigious journal, The Lancet.

“We don’t use the word cure very often in medicine, but this research shows that under the right circumstances this is a cure,” said Dr Flora Wong.

Dr Wong, a Monash Health neonatologist and researcher with Monash University and the Hudson Institute of Medical Research, was part of a global research project that has shown a disease that had no hopes for survival can now be treated effectively.

“We now know that early and careful treatment of babies born with this rare condition can lead to survival with good long-term developmental outcomes,” Dr Wong said.

In 2009 Monash Health made medical and legal history by curing ‘Baby Z,’ who was the first baby to ever survive molybdenum cofactor deficiency Type-A, a previously incurable disease that had no prospects of survival. Babies born with the disease did not survive past early infancy.

Molybdenum cofactor deficiency Type-A is a rare condition that causes toxic sulphites to rapidly accumulate in the brain of newborns, causing seizures and the death of brain tissue, leading to death.

After Baby Z’s diagnosis with the illness, Monash Health neonatologists led by Dr Alex Veldman identified a possible treatment, cPMP (cyclic pyranopterin monophosphate). It had never before been used in humans and required unprecedented and fast-tracked legal approvals before being administered.

The treatment rapidly improved Baby Z’s sulphite (S-sulfocysteine) levels. Although she has experienced ongoing health issues, the innovative treatment allowed her to become the first human to ever survive the horrific condition. 

Baby Z’s identity remains suppressed for legal reasons.

The new research published last week has shown that the compound is even more effective than previously thought. With earlier administration of the treatment before brain injury ensues, we have seen babies survive this illness with no significant complications whatsoever.

“Because this is a rare condition we took a global approach, and treated 11 babies affected by molybdenum cofactor deficiency Type-A from around the world with the compound. It was safe, and we’ve shown that early treatment can be amazingly effective over a long time,” Dr Wong said.

Monash researchers confirm link between diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease

Assoc Prof Srikanth
Type 2 diabetes may be associated with brain changes that occur in Alzheimer’s disease according to latest research at Monash University.

Published last week in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, this collaborative research study was conducted by researchers at the Stroke and Ageing Research Group, Monash University and Monash Health, together with researchers in Tasmania and Western Australia. The researchers looked at the relationship between type 2 diabetes and the loss of brain cells and their connections.

“For the first time, we’ve shown that type 2 diabetes is associated with increased in-vivo levels of a biomarker also found in Alzheimer’s disease,” said Geriatrician and study author Dr Chris Moran.

The study found that people with diabetes had greater levels of a protein called tau in their spinal and brain fluid.

“Greater levels of tau in spinal fluid may reflect a build-up of “tangles” within nerve cells in the brain.” said Dr Moran. 

“The presence of such tangles may interfere with critical functions of the nerve cells, causing them to die.”

“Significantly, this nerve cell loss leads to the memory and cognitive problems similar to those found in dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease.”

“Such tangles are also found in the brains of people who have suffered from Alzheimer’s disease dementia.”

 “People with type 2 diabetes have approximately double the risk of developing dementia,” said author Associate Professor Velandai Srikanth, Director of the Stroke at Ageing Research Group at Monash University.

“We also found that diabetes is associated with cortical thinning, the layer of the brain with most nerve cells.”

“Because our study looked at participants’ data at one point in time, it does not determine whether there is a cause-and-effect relationship between diabetes and the brain tangles, but follow-up study may help confirm this.”

“Nerve cells in the brain do not easily replace themselves, so it is extremely important to find ways to reduce the risk of death of current brain cells,” added Associate Professor Srikanth.

 “With this discovery, we’re beginning to recognise that there are common mechanistic pathways that overlap with diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr Moran. 

“A better understanding of these pathways may help design drug targets and provides more options for treatment or prevention of dementia.”

The study was based on data from the US Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative and was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Stroke research at Monash recognised by the Stroke Society of Australasia

Muideen and Tharshanah
receiving their awards last Friday
Two PhD candidates at the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS) have had their translational research recognised by the Stroke Society of Australasia (SSA) at the Annual Scientific Meeting in Melbourne last week.  

Muideen Olaiya and Tharshanah Thayabaranthan each received bursary awards valued at $1000 for their outstanding abstracts submitted for an oral presentation as PhD students.

Muideen Olaiya PhD is part of STANDFIRM trial, a large multicentre, randomised controlled trial to determine whether an organised program of care reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease in patients with stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA).

Survivors of stroke in Australia still present with a number of risk factors after discharge from acute care, placing them at a great risk of experiencing recurrence and other severe events,” said Muideen.

“My research focuses on investigating the efficacy of an evidence-based model of post-discharge care, underpinned by policy, for the management of this high-risk population.”

“If effective, this model of care could improve long-term treatment outcomes in survivors of stroke.”

Meanwhile, Tharshanah’s PhD is a sub-study of Stroke123, a collaborative national effort to monitor, promote and improve the quality of stroke care in hospitals and patient outcomes.

“My research is focussed on determining the effectiveness of a quality improvement program to support Queensland hospitals in closing the gap between evidence and clinical practice in stroke care,” said Tharshanah.

“I'm aiming to show the added value of external support from independent organisations to improve quality of care in hospitals.”

“Better quality of care in hospitals leads to better patient outcomes.”

Tharshanah expressed her gratitude and thanks to the members of the Stroke123 team and her supervisors, Associate Professor Dominique Cadilhac and Dr Nadine Andrew for their support and encouragement.

“I feel honoured and privileged to receive this award, and particularly want to thank Professor Mandy Thrift, Associate Professor Dominique Cadilhac and Associate Professor Velandai Srikanth, and all other investigators and staff members involved in the trial,” said Muideen.

Frontiers of single cell genomic medicine at Monash Health Translation Precinct

Prof Hertzog
On Friday 4 September, Monash Health Translation Precinct’s (MHTP) Single Cell Genomics Centre was awarded Australia’s first Single Cell Centre of Excellence by internationally-renowned biotechnology company Fluidigm, making it the first in the southern hemisphere.

Parliamentary Secretary for Medical Research, Mr Frank McGuire MP, officially opened the centre at a launch event at the Hudson Institute before touring the state-of-the-art facility to learn about the ground-breaking research being enabled by the single-cell technology.

Invitation to MMO's Final Concert of the Year - Wonderful and Wicked, 4 October

The Monash Medical Orchestra warmly invites you to their final concert for the year, The Wonderful and Wicked, to be held on Sunday October 4th at 5pm in the James Tatoulis Auditorium of Methodist Ladies' College in Kew. This is a particularly special concert for us, as it marks the 5th anniversary of the Monash Medical Orchestra. We would love to have you celebrate this momentous occasion with us.

This concert will feature Beethoven’s Egmont Overture, Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain, music from Wicked and other exciting works under the direction of our conductor, Robert Dora. Tickets are priced at $20 for adults and $15 at our concession rate, and may be purchased online here or at the door. Friends and family are most welcome.

Neurology/Stroke Grand Rounds 09/09/15

Unit: Neurology/Stroke                     
Presenter: Dr Catherine Ding
Topic: "How do you know your hand is yours? (The Neuroscience of Self)"
Date: Wednesday 9th  September 2015
Time: 12.30pm to 1.30pm

Venue: Main Lecture Theatre, Monash Medical Centre, Clayton

World Suicide Prevention Day Seminar – Self Harm and Mental Health-Related Ambulance Attendances in Australia - Thursday 10th September 2015

Please accept this invitation to attend a seminar presenting findings from Self Harm and Mental Health-Related Ambulance Attendances in Australia.

Time: 12pm – 1pm
Date: Thursday 10th September 2015
Location: Turning Point, 54-62 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy.

Immunology Group of Victoria Retreat - October 8-9

This year’s Immunology Group of Victoria Retreat will take place from October 8-9 in Creswick.

The line-up of national and international speakers includes Dirk Busch, Andreas Strasser, Ranjeny Thomas, Barbara Fazekas, Patrick Bertolino, Tom Kay, Marc Pellegrini, Joanna Groom, Jane Oliaro and Nicole LaGruta.

The retreat is suited to lab heads, postdocs and students, and offers plenty of speaking opportunities.

Travel bursaries to the ASI Annual Scientific Meeting in Canberra will be up for grabs, among other prizes.

For registrations, see

Hope to see you there,
Ashley Mansell

Immunology Group of Victoria Committee

Windermere Foundation - 2016 Doctoral Scholarships in Health- Applications Close – Friday 30 October 2015 at 5:00pm

The scholarship offers Up to $40,000 for use to support salaries, equipment and other costs, including relevant travel, which directly supports the research project leading to the Doctoral degree.

Link to the application form is below:

 Applicants must:
have current registration with AHPRA
be an Australian citizen or permanent resident
be and have been resident in Victoria for three years
be enrolled as a full time or part time Doctoral student at a Victorian University
have had their proposed Doctoral study ‘confirmed’ by the University through a formal review process
have received approval from the University’s Human Research Ethics Committee

SGS 2016: New Joint Medicine-Pharmacy Grants - APPLICATIONS NOW OPEN

The Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences (FMNHS) under its Strategic Grants Scheme (SGS) and the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (FPPS) under its Grantsmanship Program, aim to strengthen the capability and international competitiveness of its researchers by supporting high quality proposals.
In a new initiative commencing this year, targeted funds are reserved for joint proposals from researchers in FMNHS and FPPS, where priority will be given to significant new collaborations between the two faculties.
To ensure a central focus on strategic enhancement of research, funding will be awarded to applicants whose projects best demonstrate a combination of scientific quality and the potential for strategic gain for the Faculties. 
Applications must be submitted via the Joint Medicine-Pharmacy (JMP) online application portal (link below).  Individual grant applications may request up to $50,000 for 2016.  Applications must have CIs from both Faculties, with the CI-1 and CI-2 from either FMNHS or FPPS.  Applications must be endorsed by the Head of the Academic Unit which will administer the project.

Applications for Joint Medicine-Pharmacy (JMP) grants are NOW OPEN at

ECR Intranet page

Stay up-to-date on ECR events, and find out about mentoring and the ECR committee at:

Faculty ECR Symposium – Registrations NOW OPEN!

The Faculty of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences (FMNHS) will be holding their biannual Early Career Researcher (ECR) Symposium on Monday 9th November 2015 at the Caulfield campus
Registration is now open and will close on Monday 26th October 2015.  Registration cost for the event is $50.  Schools and Departments have been encouraged to support the cost of attendance from their Professional Development budgets.

Monash Animal Research Ethics Update - September 2015

1.Animal Ethics Information Session – Thurs 29 Oct 2015 
2.Updated Form - Minor Amendment 
3.Updated Form - Non-Compliance Report 
4.Time Extensions – Research / Teaching and Breeding Colony Applications 
5.NHMRC Well-being Guidelines 
6. New Monash University Veterinarian, MARP 
7. Submission of Documents to MARP AECs 
8. Reminders – Rodent Monitoring Sheet & Gavage 
9. Animal Ethics Regulations, Guidelines, Codes & Information

Copy available from

Differential short-term regional effects of early high dose erythropoietin on white matter in preterm lambs after mechanical ventilation

Mary Tolcos et al. publishbed in the Journal of Physiology.

Read article here.

Short case: Gait examination

Michael Fahey et al. published in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health.

Read article here.

Proportion of undercarboxylated osteocalcin and serum P1NP predict incidence of myocardial infarction in older men

Peter Ebeling et al. published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Read article here.

The effect of hyperinsulinaemic-euglycaemic clamp and exercise on bone remodeling markers in obese men

Peter Ebeling et al. published in BoneKEy Reports, the official journal of the International Bone and Mineral Society.

Read article here.

Safety and immunogenicity of RV3-BB human neonatal rotavirus vaccine administered at birth or in infancy: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

Jim Buttery et al. published in The Lancet.

Read article here.

Local IL-17 Production Exerts a Protective Role in Murine Experimental Glomerulonephritis.

Poh Yi Gan et al. published in PLOS One.

Read article here.

Endometrial Side Population Cells: Potential Adult Stem/Progenitor Cells in Endometrium

Caroline Gargett et al. published in Biology of Reproduction.

Read article here.

Global, regional, and national disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) for 306 diseases and injuries and healthy life expectancy (HALE) for 188 countries, 1990-2013: quantifying the epidemiological transition.

Amanda Thrift et al. published in the Lancet.

Read article here.

Gender Differences in Physical Activity Levels of Older People With Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.

Velandai Srikanth et al. published in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health.

Read article here.

Interleukin 38 exerts anti-inflammatory functions and is associated with disease activity in systemic lupus erythematosus

Marcel Nold et al. published in Arthritis & Rheumatology.

Read article here.

Simulation based training in a publicly funded home birth programme in Australia: A qualitative study

Arunaz Kumar et al. published in Women and Birth:  Journal of the Australian College of Midwives

Read article here.

Anti-angiogenic collagen fragment arresten is increased from 16 weeks' gestation in pre-eclamptic plasma

Padma Murthi et al. published in Placenta.

Read article here.