Major funding boost for global COVID-19 research in Western Australia

Scientist smiling at camera in lab

The Western Australian Government has backed the world leading scientists at the Australian National Phenome Centre (ANPC) with $3.4 million dedicated to Long COVID research.

The ANPC will apply state-of-the-art metabolic phenotyping, which involves highly detailed and comprehensive analysis of biological fluids, to profile patients afflicted with Long-COVID. 

This will allow scientists to better understand the disease and the secondary organ damage it inflicts, including sustained cardiovascular effects. 

The goal of the research is to develop new biomarkers – molecules found in body fluids that signal the presence of the disease – to help identify those at greatest risk and the health trajectories of patients living with the disease. 
This information will be used to develop precision treatments for Long COVID. 

The research is being conducted in collaboration with partners at Harvard University, Monash University and The University of Western Australia, with the State Government funding following on from $3.4 million provided by the National Health and Medical Research Council in 2021.

Professor Jeremy Nicholson, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences at Murdoch University and Director of the ANPC, said the research is critical to properly address the long-term health implications of COVID-19

“We recently developed a predictive model to identify individual chances of recovery from COVID-19. This work builds on that to understand Long COVID in such detail that will allow us to diagnose and develop effective treatments,” Professor Nicholson said.

We are a long way from seeing the back of this pandemic and, even if new infections halted tomorrow, we still face a significant healthcare challenge in managing those living with Long COVID.”
 Professor Jeremy Nicholson

Medical Research Minister Hon Stephen Dawson MLC said the extra funding provided by the McGowan Government would be welcome news for those suffering from Long COVID.

“The symptoms of Long COVID can be debilitating and the lack of information means diagnosis can be difficult,” Minister Dawson said. 

“This funding recognises those challenges are far from over and gives researchers the tools they need to address them.”

A review by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimates that 5% to 10% of COVID-19 cases in Australia go on to develop Long COVID. While the chronic long-term effects are not yet fully understood, they pose unknown challenges to individual patients and healthcare systems. 

This research will inform the solutions. 

“While the public focus may have relaxed, we are as focused as ever on understanding this disease and delivering the tools that are essential for its immediate and long-term management,” Professor Nicholson said.

The research is also supported by funding from the WA Government, Spinnaker Health Research Foundation, the McCusker Charitable Foundation, and the Medical Research Future Fund, as well as UK Medical Research Council and National Institute of Health Research

The ANPC is part of Murdoch University’s Health Futures Institute, bringing together a multidisciplinary team of scientists and our local WA community to transform how long and how well people live, not just in Australia, but around the world. 

This research supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3 to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

Posted on:

11 May 2023


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