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Cure Kids’ 10 million dollar commitment to child health research

Cure Kids, New Zealand’s leading non-government funder of child health research, has reached its biggest funding milestone, supporting more than $10 million of child health research, it was announced today.

Cure Kids is presently funding over 60 child health research projects, with commitments of more than $2.2 million towards mental health, over $1.6 million towards obesity, and millions more for research into the prevention, treatment and cure of a wide range of other paediatric health conditions.

Cure Kids says the latest projects, totalling $574,150, are set to make a positive impact on the lives of Kiwi kids and their families. The seven recipients were selected from 27 applications in the 2017 Cure Kids Annual Granting Round, a funding initiative aimed at improving prevention, diagnosis and treatment of paediatric health conditions.

“This round of funding will support vital child health research and the work of some of New Zealand’s brightest research minds,” says Cure Kids CEO, Frances Benge. “We are impressed by the calibre of these projects and see the seven projects as having the potential to make an impact at both a national and global level.”

One of the projects selected is ‘Managing Diabetes in a Flash’, launches this week and aims to help adolescents with type 1 diabetes better manage their health through using a unique glucose monitoring system.

The study, led by Associate Professor Ben Wheeler, a paediatric endocrinologist at Dunedin’s University of Otago, is the only trial in the world to assess the teenage population (aged 13-18) using such modern technology. It involves a small sensor attached to the arm, which delivers frequent glucose readings and is a contrast to the finger prick test which can be painful, awkward, and embarrassing for teens.

The trial will focus on 64 teenagers with poorly controlled type 1 diabetes – 32 will manage their blood glucose levels through a flash glucose monitoring system measured against the other half using the traditional finger prick test over a six-month period.

Dr Wheeler says the funding of more than $106,000 is a big “boost” to enable his team to move forward with the randomised controlled trial; “there are over 2500 children under 18 in New Zealand living with type 1 diabetes, and their wellbeing is of ongoing concern. We’re hopeful this innovation will help them better manage their condition, see improved glycaemic control, increase glucose monitoring behaviour, and improve their quality of life.”

Other 2018 Cure Kids Granting Round recipients are:

  • Dr Stuart Dalziel, Starship Children’s Hospital received $106,256, to lead the New Zealand arm of the world’s largest randomised controlled three-year trial in bronchiolitis. The aim is to determine if corticosteroids and adrenaline administered together to patients with bronchiolitis in the emergency department will reduce hospital admission. The grant will enable 300 children in New Zealand to take part in the trial with a total 1616 infants from NZ, Australia and Canada.
  • The ProViDe (Protein IVN: Impact on Development) study led by Professor Frank Bloomfield and Barbara Cormack received $93,996 to determine if early nutrition in extremely preterm babies improves neurodevelopmental outcomes in early childhood. The placebo-controlled trial in babies with extremely low birth weight will assess if increased protein intake during a week after birth improves survival and neurodevelopmental impact at two years-of-age. This will look at the results of the two-year-olds who were given higher protein diets as babies, as well as the babies who received the placebo treatment.
  • Associate Professor Mhoyra Fraser from the University of Auckland is investigating the use of intranasal immunomodulatory therapy for preterm brain injury to help prevent injury caused by oxygen deprivation while in utero or at birth in preterm infants (received $106,937). Her team is investigating what happens in the foetal or newborn brain when it experiences hypoxia (oxygen deprivation). Each year in New Zealand, around 5000 babies are born preterm. The earlier a baby is born, the greater the risk he or she has of developing brain injury.
  • Auckland University’s Assistant Professor Andrea Vincent received $84,492 to investigate the genetic causes of childhood retinal blindness. Her research ‘Light at the end of the tunnel’ has identified 41 children from the NZ Database of Inherited Retinal Disease, 25 of which have no genetic diagnosis, and will be screened against a gene panel composed of 280 genes associated with retinal disease in children. This could result in a genetic diagnosis for some, improving the chances of being eligible for a clinical trial and the potential for treatment.
  • $75,500 will enable “Big Data” analytic techniques to identify new risk factors for sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI). This study is being led by Edwin Mitchell, Barry Milne, John Thompson and Alison Leversha from the University of Auckland. Cure Kids has supported SUDI research with global impact in over the years, and rates have decreased dramatically since the late 1980s. This research will look at additional risk factors for SUDI by analysing a database of people and households from government agencies, Statistics NZ, and non-government organisations.
  • Finally, the Innovation Seed Fund – which supports early-age, innovative research ideas which have the potential to improve the understanding, diagnosis, therapy, and prevention of paediatric diseases and disorders – allocated $26,800 to Dr Joanne Choi of University of Otago to develop tooth-coloured shell crowns as a non-invasive method to treat dental decay in children.

This year’s recipients were selected by the Cure Kids Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee (MSAC), which comprises child health experts in various fields. For more information visit www.curekids.org.nz.

ENDS

For more information, images or to arrange an interview please contact:

Saraid Black, Cure Kids, 0274 732 211 or Saraid@curekids.org.nz