$2.5M Medical Research Future Fund grant to study recurrent wheeze in preschoolers

QUT Professor Anne Chang has been awarded a $2,588,607.14 Medical Research Future Fund grant to lead a multidisciplinary, multi-institution project, “Improving outcomes of recurrent preschool wheeze: a multicentre randomised controlled trial with biomarker discovery”.

Professor Chang, from QUT School of Public Health & Social Work said that although wheezing in preschool children was common with a higher morbidity than other asthma groups, doctors and parents disagreed more than 50 per cent of the time on whether wheezing is present in a child.

“This may cause under– or over-diagnosis of asthma and lead to over or under-use of medications, children having to undergo unnecessary procedures and high parental anxiety,” Professor Chang said.

“However, it would be poor practice to give all children asthma medication which can have adverse effects.

“Our multicentre study will address the need to manage recurrent preschool wheezing (PSW) by objectively identifying it with an AI-developed tool (WheezeScan), and an appropriate management plan.

“In addition, our planned discovery arm based on pilot data, using blood gene expression markers & saliva extracellular vesicles to address the need for a reliable biomarker.”

The project will recruit 206 children with recurrent PSW from hospitals and community clinics, including from remote Indigenous clinics to test the intervention of definitive wheeze identification followed by appropriate management.

“The primary aim is to reduce unscheduled doctor visits and other clinically important outcomes: hospitalisation, time to next unscheduled doctor visit, improved quality of life,” Professor Chang said.

“We will also evaluate its cost-effectiveness.”

The study will be conducted in Brisbane, Indigenous Outreach clinics, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Darwin.

Chief investigators are Professor Chang, Associate Professor Julie Marchant, Professor Steven McPhail, Associate Professor Stephanie Yerkovich, Dr Vikas Goyal, Dr Hannah O’Farrell, QUT; Professor Keith Grimwood, Professor Chamindie Punyadeera, Associate Professor Shane George, Griffith University; Professor Andre Schultz, University of Western Australia; Professor Hiran Selvadurai, Children’s Hospital at Westmead; Mrs Lesley Versteegh, Menzies School of Health Research, Professor Jonathan Grigg, Queen Mary University of London; Dr Katherine Baines, The University of Newcastle; Dr Danielle Wurzel, University of Melbourne.

Associate investigators are Mrs Leanne Elliott-Holmes, Asthma Foundation Northern Territory; Professor Peter Morris, Menzies School of Health Research; Dr Helen Buntain, Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service; Dr Sundresan Naicker, QUT; Mrs Suzanne Goodson, Parent Advisory Group; Mrs Joanna Williams, Parent of child with preschool wheeze.

(Image: from left: Professor Steven McPhail, Dr Stephanie Yerkovich, Hannah O’Farrell, Professor Anne Chang, Associate Professor Julie Marchant and Dr Vikas Goyal)

/University Release. View in full here.