Rebecca Cooper Fellowship For Strep Research

Murdoch Children's Research Institute

A Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) researcher has been awarded the Rebecca Cooper Fellowship to investigate how influenza impacts the severity of Strep A infections.

Strep A is a bacteria that can cause a sore throat and rash, but in rare cases may become invasive and result in lung infections like pneumonia, as well as other conditions like sepsis, flesh-eating disease and kidney failure.

Associate Professor Catherine Satzke has received the five-year, $1.5 million grant to examine the damage caused by a co-infection of Strep A and flu, why this occurs and whether other viruses behave the same way.

Strep A researcher A/Prof Catherine Satzke

Image: Associate Professor Cathrine Satzke

The Rebecca Cooper Fellowship supports mid-career medical researchers in Australia who have a well-established research program and are on track to become leaders in their chosen field. The fellowship is supported by the Rebecca L. Cooper Medical Research Foundation.

Associate Professor Satzke’s research will use human cells and a mouse model to see how the lungs and lining of the airway are affected by Strep A and flu.

“There has not been a great deal of research that looks at what happens when a person is infected with both Strep A and influenza at the same time, which can be devastating for young patients,” Associate Professor Satzke said.

“This project will use human airway cells, stem cells and a mouse model to see what goes wrong within our respiratory system when influenza virus and Strep A combine forces.”

Associate Professor Satzke said she aimed to uncover how co-infections could lead to serious lung diseases and offer novel treatments to patients in the future.

“Lung infections like pneumonia can be fatal, so the more we know about which infections can lead to serious lung diseases, the better our treatments and prevention strategies can get,” she said.

“Australia experienced a spike in Strep A cases last year, just like the northern hemisphere, so we need more research that looks at why some people develop much more severe symptoms.”

child in hospital

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