Cure Kids latest grants

December 2020 grant round

Recently funded research projects

The following research projects were approved for Cure Kids funding in the December 2020 grant round.

A study monitoring risk factors for sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI).

After a 29% decrease in mortality in the first year of life, attributed to the “Safe Sleep programme”, rates of SUDI have unexpectedly begun to rise again, especially for Māori infants. This study will investigate what might be causing this increase, to inform new national programmes to prevent SUDI. Find out more.

– Emeritus Professor Ed Mitchell, University of Auckland


A study evaluating a video game to support adolescent mental health.

This funding will enable a controlled trial of Match Emoji’s potential effects on anxiety, depression, stress, and low mood in young people. Find out more.

Mr Russell Pine, Victoria University of Wellington


An investigation into the link between Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and delayed brain development.

The team will use a neurodevelopmental index to measure a possible difference in brain age between children with ADHD and those with typical development. The results will be used to improve screening, diagnosis, and treatment for children with ADHD. Find out more.

Associate Professor Lueders, University of Auckland


A new approach to treating neurodegenerative disorders including Krabbe disease.

This ground-breaking research will combine chaperone-mediated therapy with transition-state analysis technology to design tailor-made treatments for devastating disorders which currently have no treatment or cure. Find out more.

Dr Farah Lamiable-Oulaidi, Victoria University of Wellington


A study of whether a molecule called Nox4 can reduce calcium leak and improves muscle function for those with Duchene muscular dystrophy.

Despite being first identified in 1868, Duchene muscular dystrophy leads to progressive weakness and eventual cardiac and respiratory failure, and still has no readily available cure. This study will test a drug which is already in clinical trials for other diseases to target calcium leak in dystrophy, and therefore prevent damage and inflammation in the muscle. Find out more.

Dr Tanya Cully, University of Otago


The development of a non-invasive peptoid-based therapy for tooth decay, which affects nearly 40% of preschool children, and is higher for Māori and Pasifika children.

This project will test a biochemical process with targeted antimicrobial activity designed to prevent dental caries by remineralising damaged enamel. It would become an alternative approach to fluoride toothpaste and fluorinated tap water, which fail to prevent formation of dental plaque. Find out more.

Distinguished Professor Margaret Brimble, University of Auckland, in conjunction with University of Otago


Prevention of future blindness by development of a laser imaging platform for screening children.

This innovation is designed to enable accurate and inexpensive identification of children at risk of blindness. If myopia is detected at an early age, interventions can be used to prevent disease progression. Find out more.

Dr Ehsan Vaghefi, University of Auckland in conjunction with teams from Auckland DHB and Counties Manukau DHB


Research into a rare genetic disorder – a novel microcephaly gene which reduces brain size in children. 

This project will use zebrafish as an animal model of disease to prove that a New Zealand family have a unique disorder which has not been recorded previously. This study will explore how the newly identified gene disrupts brain development in this family and others like it. Find out more.

Dr Louise Bicknell, University of Otago


Research to ascertain if C-type natriuretic peptide is a marker of low fetal blood oxygen and fetal growth restriction.

Available tests do not accurately identify all cases of fetal growth restriction, which increases the risk of stillbirth and other serious health consequences. This study will test whether a hormone called C-type natriuretic peptide can be used to identify low oxygen content in the baby’s blood, and therefore enable targeted care for at-risk mothers and babies. Find out more.

Dr Mark Oliver, University of Auckland


Refining the combination of brain and eye gene therapy for the treatment of Batten disease, a fatal disorder that mostly affects children.

This study will test whether CLN5 gene therapy can prevent or restore retinal degeneration in sheep which have naturally occurring Batten’s Disease. If the results are positive, the next stage is an application to begin the first stage of clinical trials in humans. Find out more.

Dr Samantha Murray, Lincoln University


A Trans-Tasman trial of a bacterial lysate for reduction of wheeze in pre-schoolers.

Wheeze is among the most common causes of hospital admission in young children in New Zealand. This study will include 2,268 children from 42 hospitals in New Zealand and Australia to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of an oral bacterial lysate for reducing hospitalisation due to wheeze-associated hospitalisation in children aged1-6 years with recurrent wheeze. Find out more.

Professor Cameron Grant, University of Otago


A follow-up to a trial of different feeding strategies for babies born at moderate-to-late pre-term gestation.

Approximately 80% of all pre-term births are in this period, and evidence for optimal nutrition is needed. This grant will allow for the 2-year follow-up of babies from a feeding trial, to assess their neurodevelopmental outcomes and identify the best nutritional strategies to help ensure the best long-term health for pre-term babies. Find out more.

Professor Frank Bloomfield, University of Auckland


Improving the lives of children with hydrocephalus, an abnormal build-up of fluid around the brain.

Every year, around 100 New Zealand children are diagnosed with hydrocephalus, and have surgery to implant shunts. This team are developing a sensor to detect problems with the shunt as early as possible and improve care and treatment for these children. This study will test the sensor in adult sheep with hydrocephalus. Find out more about the project, and watch the real life story of Cure Kids’s ambassador Ben. 

Professor Simon Malpas, University of Auckland