Around the Precinct: 9 July 2020

A new online portal gives patients access to their information; participants sought for clinical trials; researchers unlock a secret to the success of vaccines; new funding boosts to help eliminate drug-resistant TB and address chronic pain in patients after breast cancer surgery; new support for the use of face masks as a COVID-19 preventative measure; and a reminder about the need to ‘keep it moving’: Here’s just some of what has happened this week across the Alfred Research Alliance.

Alfred Health

New Online Patient Portal Introduced

Alfred Health this week introduced a secure online tool so patients can log on and access their medical information. The Alfred Health Patient Portal enables patients see their appointments, discharge summaries, outpatient letters and pathology results all in the one place. Patients can also receive direct messages from their healthcare team. Watch the video or go to the portal…

Nucleus Network

Nucleus Network

Nucleus Network is looking for healthy men & women to participate in new clinical studies. Particpants will be reimbursed up to $360 per day for their time, and will have accommodation and catering provided during their stay. Multiple start dates are available at our clinics in Melbourne. To find out more and register, go to the website. To read about the steps Nucleus Network has taken to reduce the risk of COVID-19 for study participants read more here.
Burnet Institute
More Support for Masks as One Measure to Prevent COVID-19 Spread
Burnet Institute researchers have suggested the wearing of face coverings in high-risk settings where people are unable to physically distance, like public transport. Dr Suman Majumdar, Burnet Deputy Program Director, Health Security (pictured), told ABC Radio National that it was important to remember that face masks are just one part of a raft of COVID-19 preventative measures and the ‘last in the hierarchy’ in what needs to be done. Read more… 
New MRFF Funding to Boost Fight Against Drug-Resistant TB
Two Burnet Institute research projects addressing drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) in the Indo-Pacific have received a vital funding boost for the ‘Comprehensive community-based solutions to reduce transmission of drug-resistant TB’ project. Federal Health Minister, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, announced the $2.51 million grant from the MRFF Global Health Initiative this week, saying the research had “the potential to save many thousands of lives in the Pacific and around the world”. Read more…  
Monash CCS & Monash SPHPM
$4.5M to help Eliminate Drug-Resistant TB
Prof James Trauer and team at the Epidemiological Modelling Unit at Monash SPHPM are also working towards eliminating drug-resistant forms of TB in the Pacific, and received a further $4.25M in MRFF funding for their work. Read more…
Long-Lived Plasma Cells the Key to Vaccine Success
A plasma cell, situated in its survival niche, produces Y shaped antibodies.
Long-lived plasma cells are needed for successful vaccines as they can
produce anti-virus antibodies for decades. Image: Tarlinton lab

In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, a lot of research is focused on developing a vaccine.  For a vaccine to be successful, it has to do two things: Signal the body to generate a lot of plasma cells to make anti-virus antibodies, and live for years – or even decades – for the vaccination to work. Most, however, only survive a few days. A recent study led by Prof David Tarlinton from the Monash CCS Immune Memory Laboratory and published in the journal Immunological Reviews, suggests that components within vaccines can play a major role in aiding the lifespan of individual plasma cells. Read more…

MRFF Funding for Clinical Trial to Reduce Chronic Pain after Breast Cancer Surgery

The Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) Clinical Trials Network (CTN) has secured $4.3M in MRFF funding to perform a clinical trial in 4400 patients undergoing breast cancer surgery. Headed by CIA Professor Tomás Corcoran from Royal Perth Hospital and Adjunct Clinical Professor at Monash SPHPM, and CIB Prof Paul Myles, who heads the ANZCA CTN within Monash CCS, the trial will explore the use of intravenous lidocaine post-surgery and examine the patient’s genes to see if their genetic makeup alters the body’s response to the drug. With some 50% of breast cancer patients experiencing chronic pain after surgery, Prof Cordoran says preventing this pain is considered the “holy grail”. Read more…

Baker Institute

Baker Institute Promotes Online ‘Keep It Moving’ Resources

With the reintroduction of Stage 3 restrictions in Victoria, it’s clear that we will be dealing with COVID-19 for some time. Baker Institute’s ‘Keep it Moving’ initiative, launched in March, is worth another mention this week. Accredited exercise physiologists and researchers from the Baker Institute have developed easy to follow, 30-minute exercise plans tailored for different groups, including people living with heart disease, diabetes and cancer, and for older people over 65, plus fact sheets on physical activity, nutrition and more valuable resources to use and share. Read more…