$19.3 million for rare cancer and rare disease research

Researchers in the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences will receive $19,324,213 under the 2021 Rare Cancers, Rare Diseases and Unmet Need (RCRDUN) grant opportunity.

The grants have been awarded by the Australian Government from a total pool of $63 million.

Monash successes include projects focused on pancreatic cancer, antibiotic therapy and Ewing Sarcoma (ES), a rare and aggressive cancer arising from bone and soft tissue.

Deputy Dean (Research), Professor James Whisstock said this latest MRFF funding recognises the breadth, quality and significance of the Faculty’s research in the area of rare diseases.

“We congratulate our successful researchers and wish them the very best of success in conducting their projects. We anticipate that the results of these MRFF funded projects will  make a positive change to patients around the world,” Professor Whisstock said.

The MRFF funding will permit Monash researchers to directly address the challenges posed in IMPACT 2030 - particularly in the context of supporting thriving communities and combating medical conditions that will grow in prevalence as a consequence of climate change.

Faculty grant recipients include:

Fibrinogen Early In Severe Trauma StudY II (FEISTY II) - $3,162,379.40

CIA: A/Professor Zoe McQuilten

8,000 predominantly young adult Australians suffer severe trauma with bleeding annually, causing death and disability. This phase III randomised clinical trial will investigate the efficacy of fibrinogen concentrate in stemming major bleeding in trauma patients. If shown to be effective, this product would offer major advantages over currently used clotting agents like cryoprecipitate, including a long shelf-life and rapid administration to patients.

SCANPatient: Synoptic reporting of CT scans assessing cancer of the pancreas - $2,970,301.10

CIA: Adj. A/Professor Charles Pilgrim

There are approximately 4,000 people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer (PC) annually in Australia. People with PC are treated according to the extent of their disease at diagnosis. One of the problems that doctors face is adequately distinguishing patients who should receive chemotherapy before surgery versus surgery alone. In this randomised controlled trial, researchers will test whether a structured radiology report can improve the accuracy of reporting of CT scans in PC to optimise care.

REDEEM: A Randomised Controlled Trial of ECMO to Desedate, Extubate Early and Mobilise in severe acute respiratory infection - $2,534,432

CIA: Adj. Dr Aidan Burrell

Mechanical ventilators offer life-saving breathing support to critically ill people with severe pneumonia, but they are associated with prolonged hospitalisation and poor long-term recovery. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is an alternative technology that can replace the need for ventilation by undertaking blood gas exchange outside the body, with potentially fewer unwanted side effects. This multicentre, randomised controlled trial will test whether early use of ECMO in patients with severe pneumonia improves patients recovery, paving the way to completely rethink the way we manage severe respiratory failure in the future.

Duration of Cardiac Antimicrobial Prophylaxis Outcomes Study (CALIPSO): multicentre, adaptive, double-blind, three-arm, placebo-controlled, non-inferiority trial examining antimicrobial prophylaxis duration in cardiac surgery - $7,979,999.10

CIA:A/Prof Trisha Peel

Infections following heart surgery lead to significant patient suffering and healthcare costs. The administration of antibiotics at the time of surgery is an important strategy to prevent infections. However, we do not know if there is an additional benefit with giving these antibiotics in the postoperative period or whether it will lead to patient harm, such as the emergence of drug-resistant infections. CALIPSO is an innovative, adaptive trial conducted by researchers at Monash and Alfred Health, examining the optimal duration of antibiotic therapy to prevent infections in 9000 patients undergoing heart surgery.

More efficient delivery of high-cost standard-of-care therapies in relapsed multiple myeloma using real-time feedback of patient-reported outcome measures: the MY-PROMPT-2 trial - $1,678,493

CIA: Prof Andrew Spencer

INTER-EWING -1 - International clinical research program to improve outcomes in newly diagnosed Ewing Sarcoma patients Trial 1 - $998,608.80

CI: A/Prof Geoffrey McCowage; A/Prof Jayesh Desai; A/Prof Marianne Phillips; Dr Jessica Ryan; Prof Angela Hong; Dr Jeremy Lewin; Dr Maria Kirby; Prof Bernadette Brennan; Ms Robyn Strong; A/Prof Paul Stalley.

INTER-EWING-1 is an international clinical trial for all patients diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma (ES), a rare and aggressive cancer arising from bone and soft tissue. The trial will demonstrate if modifying treatment at three key points will improve survival, including using a new drug in combination with chemotherapy. The Australian and New Zealand Children's Haematology/Oncology Group (ANZCHOG) will open the trial at paediatric and adult cancer centres across Australia and New Zealand. The results from INTER-EWING-1 will influence the clinical management of ES patients globally.

About Monash University

Monash University is Australia’s largest university with more than 80,000 students. In the 60 years since its foundation, it has developed a reputation for world-leading high-impact research, quality teaching, and inspiring innovation.

With four campuses in Australia and a presence in Malaysia, China, India, Indonesia and Italy, it is one of the most internationalised Australian universities.

As a leading international medical research university with the largest medical faculty in Australia and integration with leading Australian teaching hospitals, we consistently rank in the top 50 universities worldwide for clinical, pre-clinical and health sciences.

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