Cure Kids grants close to $1 million for child health issues

1/2/2022

Close to $1 million of Cure Kids grants to enable New Zealand research tackling child health issue

Cure Kids has announced that 9 researchers will share close to $1 million for research projects designed to improve child health in vital areas such as perinatal health, preterm birth, mental health, genetic conditions, cancer, and type 1 diabetes.

Cure Kids annual innovation and discovery round invites New Zealand’s brightest minds to submit research projects designed to discover the causes of disease in children, to improve care for children with health issues, and to prevent and cure disease.

Submissions go through robust assessment processes to ensure funding is directed to the projects with the highest possible chance of improving the health of children. The process is led by an independent Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee (MSAC) — a group of the country’s leading child health researchers, who also call on international experts to provide peer reviews of the research proposals.

“This year’s recipients are working to address a wide range of health issues which New Zealand children face today,” says Cure Kids CEO Frances Benge.

“It is important for us to ensure every donor dollar is used wisely, and our rigorous assessment process ensures just that. Our donors can take great pride in the innovative research they are helping Cure Kids support.”

The 13 research projects to receive 2021 funding from Cure Kids are:

A New Treatment for Preventing Lung Disease in Extremely Preterm Babies

Dr Chris McKinlay, The University of Auckland

Around 500 babies are born extremely premature in New Zealand every year. Over 50% of these babies will develop bronchopulmonary dysplasia — a lung disease that increases the risk of many other medical conditions. But Dr McKinlay and his team are working on a new treatment to help premature babies — and their families — breathe a little easier.

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This Won’t Hurt a Bit . . . A Pain-Free Approach to Sedation for Kids

Dr Sharma, The University of Auckland.

Every year, thousands of children around New Zealand are given sedative medicine to help them cope with necessary medical procedures. But giving sedative medicine via a needle or mask can be distressing for children – and their families. So, how can we ensure that kids who require sedation are not additionally stressed by how it is given? Maybe all they need is a sticking plaster . . .Dr Sharma and her team plan to design and evaluate a dissolvable microneedle patch.

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Do Kids with Type 1 Diabetes Experience Worse Educational Outcomes?

Nick Bowden, The University of Otago

Type 1 diabetes causes a significant physical and psychological burden for children who are affected by the disease – and their families. Type 1 diabetes can cause serious health issues and can also alter the developing brain. But does living with type 1 diabetes influence educational outcomes for children in Aotearoa? Nick Bowden and his team at the University of Otago plan to find out.

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Growing Pains: A Potential Treatment for Fetal Growth Restriction 

Dr Jo James, The University of Auckland

Fetal growth restriction is a serious medical condition that affects around 3000 unborn babies each year in New Zealand. Babies affected by fetal growth restriction carry an increased risk of stillbirth, as well as an increased risk for significant health issues later in life. But help is on the way. Dr James and her team at the University of Auckland are working to better understand fetal growth restriction – and to offer a potential treatment.

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A ‘Game Changing’ Approach to Treating High-Grade Glioma in Kids 

Dr Jiney Jose, The University of Auckland

Paediatric high-grade glioma is an aggressive and incurable form of brain cancer. Long-term survival rates for children with this type of brain cancer are low. But there is hope. New research by Dr Jose, funded by Cure Kids, is re-designing the way we treat high-grade glioma.

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Health hack: how an app may improve mental health and wellbeing for teens

Dr Nicola Ludin and Dr Tania Cargo, The University of Auckland

Mental illness has risen significantly in young people in Aotearoa over the last ten years. Given the evidence that lack of sleep can affect mental health, researchers from the University of Auckland propose a novel solution to help sleep-deprived young people using ‘Ninja’ sleep skills.

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Kids With Cystinosis

Dr Hollywood, The University of Auckland

Cystinosis is a rare genetic disorder that can affect every cell in the human body. Currently, children with cystinosis have only one treatment option – a medication that is challenging to take and has significant side effects. So, how can we improve the treatment of cystinosis in children? Dr Hollywood and her team at the University of Auckland might have the solution.

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A Promising Therapeutic Alternative: Treating Babies with Hypoxic-Ischaemic Encephalopathy

Dr Wassink, The University of Auckland

Hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy develops when blood flow that carries oxygen and nutrients to the baby is severely restricted during birth. If sufficiently severe, this condition carries a significant risk of death — or survival with major disability. Currently, there is only one treatment for babies born with moderate to severe hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy, therapeutic hypothermia, but it does not protect every baby. Dr Wassink and his team – including researchers from the University of Auckland and Neonatologists from around New Zealand – believe they might just have a solution.

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Sleep Yourself Healthy: A New Initiative for Improving Teen Mental Health and Wellbeing

Professor Galland and Dr Edmonds, The University of Otago

Adequate sleep is essential during the teenage years, particularly when it comes to mental health and wellbeing. Yet many teenagers are sleep deprived. So, how can we support our teens to get enough sleep during this critical time? Professor Barbara Galland and Dr Liza Edmonds believe they have the answer.

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