Two Griffith University research projects have been successful in gaining grants from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) worth a combined $2.7 million.

Professor Simon Broadley

Professor Simon Broadley from Griffith’s School of Medicine and Dentistry received $1.9 million to run the STOP-MS clinical trial in people living with multiple sclerosis (MS).

The trial will be an innovative, multi-arm multi-stage, phase III clinical trial to evaluate the effectiveness of promising therapies which act against Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in the treatment of progressive MS.

“We’ll be testing the efficacy of spironolactone and famciclovir with the hope of rapidly and efficiently repurposing these existing approved therapies as new treatments for MS,” Professor Broadley said.

“The MRFF grant will go a long way towards providing people with progressive MS the opportunity to participate in a trial designed specifically for them, something which hasn’t been afforded to them in the past.

“If this trial is successful, it will see this form of EBV treatment be repurposed as a potential therapy for people living with progressive MS.”

The team, which includes prominent researchers from more than 20 institutions, hope to roll out the trial to every state in Australia.

MS is a complex autoimmune and neurodegenerative condition which manifests differently in individuals over time.

MS is known to arise as the result of a combination of genetic and environmental factors, with past EBV infection being an essential component.

Dr Valerie Slavin

Dr Valerie Slavin from the university’s School of Nursing and Midwifery and Changing Health Systems (CHESS) with Menzies Health Institute Queensland received $740,000 for her project — Implementation, process evaluation and cost effectiveness of the Australia’s Tommy’s app which is a digital clinical decision tool to improve maternal and perinatal outcomes.

Dr Slavin’s team will address the limitation of current maternity risk assessment and the ongoing problem of clinical variation in the care and treatment of women at increased risk of pre-eclampsia and pre-term birth.

“Current risk assessment methods used in Australia rely heavily on outdated methods which were developed more than half a century ago,” she said.

“The Tommy’s app uses artificial intelligence as a clinical decision tool while also using valid and effective algorithms.

“Our three-year project will partner with pregnant women, and clinicians to concurrently implement and evaluate the Tommy’s Clinical Decision Tool in a hospital setting.

“Our findings will inform the feasibility of universal implementation of Tommy’s Tool in Australia and will be instrumental in informing national maternity policy.”