The Oxford research, published in the prestigious journal, Cell, identifies how a protein called RH5 helps human antibodies to block Plasmodium falciparum malaria from invading and destroying red blood cells.
But the journal agreed to publish only after the addition of microscopic live video recordings by Burnet researchers, which verified the impact of RH5.
This story received significant coverage in Australian media.
New Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies study begins
Image: Sister Rosemary, Dr Joshua Vogel and Professor Caroline Homer at Paparatava Health Centre, East New Britain, PNG.
Burnet’s innovative flagship research program, Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies (HMHB) is rolling out a new study designed to improve health services, especially antenatal, labour and birth, in East New Britain (ENB) province in Papua New Guinea (PNG).
The HMHB Quality of Pregnancy, Childbirth and Newborn Health Services Study, known locally as the ‘Gutpela Sevis’ study, is using a participatory, partnership defined approach to improve quality of maternal and newborn care.
“The first part of this approach is building partnerships and engaging facilities with the project,” Burnet researcher and Public Health Registrar, Dr Alyce Wilson said. “It’s also important to hear their ideas about this approach and data collection, to assess the current quality of care.”
Burnet hosted a World Hepatitis Day symposium in July, focusing on focuses on community-based approaches to elimination. Presenters said hepatitis C elimination efforts were hindered by a decline in testing, as well as stigma and ease of access to testing in primary care settings.
Hepatitis C is a significant public health issue in Australia, currently affecting over 160,000 people.
Before direct-acting antivirals were available to all Medicare-eligible Australians with chronic hepatitis C infection on 1st March 2016, there was a growing number of people living with hepatitis C, a rising burden of liver disease, and increasing rates of liver cancer and premature deaths attributed to long-term hepatitis C infection.
Prepared by Burnet Institute and the Kirby Institute, the report highlights this is now changing with declining numbers of new hepatitis C infections occurring each year.
TB diagnostic trial a potential lifesaver
Image: Laboratory scientist Nomin-Dora Tenakanai operates the Truenat device at the Partnership In Health laboratory in Port Moresby
The battery-powered and phone-operated device, called the Truenat, developed by Molbio Diagnostics India, can detect TB and antibiotic-resistant TB from sputum samples in one-to-two hours.
It’s designed to address an urgent need for accurate, cheaper, point-of-care TB diagnostics for use in rural and remote settings in a country like PNG as an alternative to laboratory-based instruments such as the GeneXpert diagnostic, which is currently available only in district and provincial hospitals across the country, and less reliable microscopy tests.
Burnet partners with Egypt for hepatitis workshop
Image: Collaborators from eight countries convened in Cairo to discuss viral hepatitis elimination initiatives
Led by Ain Shams University, the National Research Centre Egypt, and Burnet hepatitis researchers, the Cairo workshop brought together colleagues from several countries to discuss efforts to eliminate hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the new era of direct-acting antiviral (DAA) treatments.
Burnet Deputy Director Professor Margaret Hellard AM, said the advent of DAA treatments has presented a once-in-a-generation opportunity to eliminate HCV infection as a global public health threat.
PNG breaks new ground in tuberculosis research
Image: One of the new authors, Deputy Chief Physician (New Guinea Islands), NDoH, Dr Al Maha
The studies focus on a broad range of issues relating to TB across seven provinces, and collectively represent an important resource for health planning and policy in PNG. The authors all work in TB as clinicians, scientists and administrators, but had never previously published research.
The authors are all PNG nationals, who are invested in their communities and committed to the elimination of TB.
Evidence backs women’s choice on where to have their babies
Image credit: Engin Akyurt, Pixabay
Healthy women have more than twice the chance of a normal labour and birth in a planned birth centre birth compared to a planned hospital birth, a major Australian study has found.
The study of more than 1.2 million Australian births provides new evidence about the safety of places of birth, especially birth centres and home birth, and supports the development of safe midwife-led birth options for healthy women.
Compared with planned hospital births, the odds of normal labour and birth were more than twice as high in planned birth centre births and nearly six times as high in planned home births.
Professor Crabb was presented with the award at Research Australia’s Health and Medical Research Awards 2019 in Melbourne for his research to better understand the DNA of the malaria parasite, which has transformed how scientists explore malaria prevention and treatments globally.
In the lead-up to World AIDS Day on 1 December, Burnet had a number of successes in the HIV field to share.
Expanded rollout for HIV Toolkit
The rolling out of an innovative toolkit, developed to support HIV peer counsellors in Papua New Guinea, across the country in partnership with US NGO, FHI 360, has been welcomed as an opportunity to improve HIV management.
Designed to help people living with HIV to provide counselling, particularly for people who have been newly-diagnosed, the kit has been trialled over the past 12 months in a pilot program in clinics in Port Moresby and Mount Hagen.
Burnet Deputy Program Director (Behaviours and Health Risks), Lisa Davidson said FHI recognised the benefits of the resource and have agreed to produce it so that it can be implemented as a national program.
This means that the test may be procured with Global Fund and/or UNITAID funds, which support major aid agencies operating in many of the poorest countries in the world.
“It gives the green light for aid agencies delivering HIV care to tens of millions of people in disadvantaged communities around the world to take advantage of this innovation.” - Associate Professor David Anderson.
Vale Jimmy Dorabjee
It’s with deep sadness that Burnet Institute acknowledged the passing of Jimmy Dorabjee, a former senior staff member, researcher, passionate advocate for harm reduction, and larger-than-life character, who exemplified Burnet’s mission.
The Head of Burnet’s Cell Imaging Facility, Co-Head of Burnet’s Malaria Virulence and Drug Discovery Group, and Co-Head (with Director and CEO Professor Brendan Crabb AC) of the Gilson/Crabb Laboratory, Dr Gilson has a special interest and expertise in how malaria parasites invade and thrive in human red blood cells and avoid host immunity.
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