Health and medical research is one area in which Australia excels. We look at three recently published studies focusing on health and medical research in Australia.
Australia contributes significantly to medical research—so much so, in fact, that of the Nobel Prizes received by Australians, more than half have been for discoveries in physiology or medicine. You’ll be familiar with such prizes won for Florey’s contributions in developing penicillin, or Marshall and Warren discovering that helicobacter pylori causes stomach ulcers.
But among research projects that do not immediately ascend to the lofty heights of the Nobel Foundation, the emphasis isn’t so different: Australia still punches above our weight class in terms of health and medical research.
A few interesting new developments in the areas of health and medical research across Australian universities include:
A team with the Australian National University recently published a paper about how harnessing specific proteins found in our immune systems might be the key to killing even drug resistant microbes that cause some diseases, like meningitis, pneumonia and sepsis. With antibiotic resistance being a key area of health concern globally, more weapons in that arsenal are highly desirable.
At the University of Sydney, a team from the Charles Perkins Centre recently completed a study on how dietary protein and the immune system interact, using nutritional geometry (a framework that considers “how mixtures of nutrients and other dietary components influence health and disease”). Their study, conducted with mice, showed that a high protein diet changed gut microbiota, which influenced immune system activity. It’s reported that these researchers are looking to find ways to manipulate gut bacteria in humans via dietary changes.
And a team led by researchers at the University of Melbourne has come up with a spray plastic coating that can be applied to communal surfaces to prevent the transmission of infectious diseases over a period of time. This coating is the first of its kind: a permanent layer that prevents both viruses and bacteria from being passed on via shared surfaces. This is another project that shows great promise as a new tool for addressing the rising problem of antimicrobial resistance.
These three articles are recent—only from late July and early August this year. Interesting health and medical research is always in progress in Australia, not least because health remains one of our national science and research priorities.
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