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Grants put ANU in bird flu fight frontline

Australia's preparedness for a potential Avian Influenza pandemic will be boosted by four new projects at ANU, funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Researchers at the ANU College of Medicine and Health Sciences have received $110,000 for a project to strengthen the contribution of general practitioners to the control of pandemic influenza, $183,040 for a project that will examine the most effective ways to control an influenza pandemic, including strategies for effective use of limited antivirals, and $239,570 for research into inactivated flu vaccines.

Researchers at the ANU College of Science have received $237,807 to search for agents that prevent or disrupt the release of proteins, known as a cytokine storm, which causes death in flu victims.

Professor Ian Clarke from the ANU Research School of Chemistry will lead a team screening for agents that are active against late-stage inflammatory cytokines in influenza.

When the body is infected with a virulent flu virus that it hasn't encountered before, especially avian flu, the immune system goes into overdrive and creates what is know as a cytokine storm, which leads to death. Professor Clark will screen for agents that can prevent or halt a cytokine storm, with and without Tamiflu.

Leader of the study into how GP's could contribute to controlling an influenza pandemic, Professor Marjan Klajkovic from the ANU Medical School said GPs had an important role to play during a pandemic.

"This study will develop a range of action plans for use by general practitioners and public health authorities to support essential primary health care functions through a pandemic, and maximize general practice's contribution to control efforts," he said.

Project collaborator, Dr Christine Phillips, said: "We need to find ways for basic primary health care services to be maintained through a pandemic, a time when people may not be able to come to doc
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Contact: Jane O'Dwyer
61-26-125-5001
Research Australia
20-Feb-2006


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