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WIRF is one of Australia's leading organisations that is dedicated to improving the health of women and infants.

Channel 7 Telethon Trust

telethon-logo.jpgThe Channel 7 Telethon Trust is a registered charitable trust that has a philosophy to financially support the medical and social welfare of children and young people, and to fund research into children’s diseases.

Since the first Telethon on Channel 7 on November 29 1968, Telethon has raised over $268 million and provided much needed financial assistance to a significant number of charitable organisations, children's hospitals & research/medical facilities in Western Australia.

WIRF received their first grant from Telethon 40 years ago to purchase a new piece of technology called ‘a computer’ which was shipped in parts from Germany. Since this time the Channel 7 Telethon Trust has been an avid supporter of WIRF and our work.

Last year WIRF was honoured to receive funding support for several research projects from the Channel 7 Telethon Trust. These studies focussed on improving the health and outcomes of WA women, mothers and their babies.


Development of a New Antenatal Steroid Dosing Regimen for the 50% of Pregnancies that Fail to Respond to Current Treatments.

Lead Investigator: Associate Professor Matt Kemp

This project is designed to benefit preterm infants and their families and addresses a significant clinical need in perinatal medicine, namely, improving the efficacy of antenatal steroid therapy.

Preterm infants are some of the most vulnerable members of our society and preterm birth has the potential to exert a life-long impact on children and their families. The rationale for undertaking this work is the compelling body of evidence that shows preterm birth is the cause of the substantial majority of neonatal deaths in Australia today, and our exciting new data explaining the relationship between fetal steroid exposures and lung maturation. As noted above, antenatal steroids are variably effective and work in only 50% of cases.
It is in response to this situation that we wish to perform the first studies to optimise antenatal steroid therapy based on maternal and fetal plasma protein binding of steroids. We are one of the few groups in the world with the infrastructure and expertise to undertake this work. Funding this project will our Perth-based team to further develop a much needed advance in an essential therapy for preterm infants. If successful, this study has the very real potential to impact the use of antenatal steroids around the world.

Effectiveness of the Western Australian Preterm Birth Prevention Initiative in 2017
Lead Investigators: Prof Dorota Doherty & Prof John Newnham

Preterm birth (PTB) is the leading cause of neonatal mortality and morbidity in Australia today. Preventing and/or delaying preterm birth will have immediate and long-term benefits.
Discovering further improvements to the PTB prevention strategies introduced by the WA PTB Prevention Initiative so far will have immediate benefits for pregnant women, their children and the health care system.
Evaluation of the impact of the WA PTB Prevention Initiative is paramount to identify individuals still at high risk of PTB and consequently develop future refinements of the WA PTB Prevention Initiative to achieve optimal clinical outcomes, thereby preventing infant mortality and disability resulting from PTB.

Multi-omic analysis of cervicovaginal fluids for predicting preterm birth
Lead Investigator: Professor Jeffery Keelan

We hope that the project will generate diagnostic information that will allow us to identify women who will respond to treatments aimed at lowering their risk of preterm birth. Discovering how to better prevent preterm birth (PTB) will have immediate benefits for pregnant women, the health care system and society. Women at high risk of PTB, who are often highly stressed and worried, will be particularly helped by this research.
In addition, identifying pathophysiological mechanisms underpinning the risk of PTB would enable new and better interventions to be devised and applied, based on causal factors and likelihood of successful response. This will lower the rates of PTB and associated illness and death of infants.

Understanding the impact of maternal depression on infant developmental and socioemotional outcomes
Lead Investigator: Professor Megan Galbally

This study will focus on the developmental precursors of mental health disorders during early childhood in the context of maternal perinatal mental illness. It will provide unique data for WA on the relationship between maternal and infant emotional wellbeing and early risk factors for vulnerability to mental illness.
Understanding better the risks and benefits with treatment of depression with antidepressant medication in pregnancy will benefit women in pregnancy but by understanding the impact on the fetus/infant it will also allow clinicians to make more informed choices about treatment that benefit mother and child. There has been conflicting findings about risks and benefits for children exposed to antidepressant medication in pregnancy. By joining these 4 cohorts will be able to contribute unique data and understanding to this area of clinical care to benefit mother and child.
This study builds on a well-developed and established protocol from a Melbourne cohort and this also provides a comparison point for data generated. By investing in high quality research with the capacity to contribute to the identification of early risk and protective factors for child socioemotional development.

Furthermore, this study will allow recommendations for practice, identification of and development of effective interventions and the translation of this into practice that is adapted and designed specifically for WA.

Identification of bacteriophages with potential for prevention and treatment of bacterial infections in the perinatal period
Lead Investigators: Dr Matt Payne & Lucy Furfaro

Bacterial infections during pregnancy and the neonatal period cause significant mortality and morbidity, with those infants fortunate to survive often presenting with long-term health issues.
Many of these infants will spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), with global estimates that 23% will succumb to infection. Although antibiotics are the frontline treatment for bacterial infections, approximately a third of such neonatal deaths are reported as attributable to antimicrobial resistant organisms; this highlights the urgent need for alternative treatments, such as phages.
Our study will utilise local MDR-bacterial specimens to tailor our therapeutic phage screening so that we can identify phages of direct clinical relevance and provide an alternative solution for cases where antibiotic options have failed. The immediate impact will be seen in lowering the mortality/morbidity rate associated with MDR infections in Western Australian neonates/infants. In the long-term we aim to establish clinical trials to provide further supporting evidence for clinical use that goes beyond last resort cases, to help combat the global problem of antibiotic resistance and minimise antibiotic exposure in pregnant women and neonates/infants in general.

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Contact details

Women and Infants Research Foundation
Carson House, King Edward Memorial Hospital
374 Bagot Road, Subiaco, WA 6008

Telephone: 08 6458 1437
Fax: 08 6458 1642
Email: info@wirf.com.au

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