Key areas of research and patient care you are helping support
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, with 18,000 Australians diagnosed each year and a heartbreaking 3000 dying from the disease.
In 2020, our breast cancer researchers at the Centre for Cancer Biology, Basil Hetzel Institute and Dame Roma Mitchell Cancer Research Laboratories:
Made a critical discovery of a protein called Creld2 which causes breast cancer to grow more quickly, with work now turning to finding agents which can destroy or block this protein
Investigated a new treatment for triple negative breast cancer which aims to reduce breast cancer cell growth, plus kill cancer cells while activating the patient’s immune system
Identified an exciting list of drugs which show promise in changing an offending hormone receptor in breast cancer from cancer-promoting to cancer-inhibiting
Made progress in improving breast cancer screening outcomes for women with dense breasts through increased community awareness and education
Developed a unique injectable gel system to deliver a patient’s own cancer-fighting T-cells directly to a tumour site
Continued looking at whether a patient’s age and menstrual cycle stage can affect results of a genomic test used to guide treatment decisions
Investigated new therapy candidates to treat triple negative breast cancer that inhibit a protein called C1q
Continued investigations into ways to slow, stop or reverse the effects of a newly-found compression force.
Prostate cancer is the most common form of internal cancer in Australian men, affecting 16,000 males every year. Sadly, 3000 will die from the disease each year.
In 2020, our prostate cancer researchers at Flinders University, Centre for Cancer Biology, Dame Roma Mitchell Cancer Research Laboratories and The Queen Elizabeth Hospital:
Identified a protein called CDK9 that drives prostate cancer growth, with attention now turning to developing new drugs that focus on this protein
Identified an exciting list of drugs which show promise in changing offending hormone receptors in prostate cancer from cancer-promoting to cancer-inhibiting
Discovered membranous urethral length (MUL) had a positive association with continence over 12 months post-surgery
Contributed to the South Australian Prostate Cancer Clinical Outcomes Collaborative (SA-PCCOC) database which now holds data for more than 16,000 men to assist research and inform best approaches to care.
When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit Australia, THRF Group moved quickly to commit funds to our doctors, researchers and vulnerable patient groups to help flatten the curve.
Thanks to you, we were able to help provide critical funding for research teams at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Basil Hetzel Institute, University of Adelaide, Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity and Centre for Cancer Biology to:
Run clinical trials on hospitalised COVID-19 patients to test drugs as a potential treatment
Analyse more than 100 recovered COVID-19 patients to determine how the virus affects the body and use these insights to help develop a vaccine
Determine the impact of COVID-19 on people with cancer to help develop the best course of action for these patients
Develop and test a new “field” ventilator which doesn’t need to be used in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) setting or by ICU trained staff, to help developing countries deal with the pandemic
Investigate the wellbeing and mental health of the South Australian community pre and post COVID-19 to inform future public health support
Screen all staff and visitors attending hospitals during the height of the pandemic
Investigate whether existing antibodies that treat acute inflammatory lung conditions would be effective in COVID-19.
Country hospitals and healthcare services play a crucial role in the health and wellbeing of our communities.
In 2020, our regional funding enabled us to:
Open two more Under Our Roof homes to provide country cancer patients and their families with family-style accommodation when visiting Adelaide for treatment
Provide an extensive list of healthcare equipment for country hospitals in South Australia, including:
– Chemotherapy chairs at Port Lincoln Hospital
– Ultrasound units for Wallaroo and Port Pirie
– Pressure-relieving mattresses for Whyalla
– Anaesthetic infusion pumps for Mount Gambier
– Telehealth equipment for the Mallee
– A high-flow oxygen ventilator for Gawler
Conduct a review of a Nurse Led Ambulatory Service at Port Pirie which aims to reduce hospital admissions and emergency department presentations
Investigate the sustainability of a regional stroke coordinator to improve stroke outcomes for rural South Australians
Examine ways to prevent the pain and trauma experienced by regional dialysis patients when having their needles inserted into their vein and complications arising with their AV fistula connection
Investigate the use of drones as a timely courier service for urgent medical items to be delivered to rural hospitals
Provide virtual support to rural and remote doctors and midwives so they can administer ultrasounds on pregnant mothers and babies in regional communities throughout Australia as part of our ‘Healthy Newborn Project’
Deliver health and wellbeing programs and specialised neuro-physiotherapy, crisis counselling, wellness coaching and occupational therapy to people living with Parkinson’s and those on the NDIS in regional areas.
THRF Group charity the Centre for Creative Health (CCH) drives creative health within our local hospitals through world-leading arts, music and design programs, hands-on projects and other creative initiatives for patients, visitors and staff.
In 2020, the CCH team delivered a number of initiatives within the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH), The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (TQEH), Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre, Lyell McEwin Hospital and Glenside Acute Services:
Extensive art and music therapies, diversional art and hands-on rehabilitation programs for in- and outpatients
Rotating art exhibitions across a range of galleries to provide a calming hospital environment – including video and moving image art for online mediums
Support for patients during COVID-19 by providing art packs and music therapy
Research which showed that playing live music to patients each morning for a week improved pain and mood
A regular online education program for the public about what is creative health and how arts benefit the hospital setting
A partnership with Laurel Palliative Care Foundation to deliver LifeCycles – The LEAF Project (Life, Education, Art, Feelings) in schools which uses art to educate and build awareness about death, dying, grief and life cycles.
An estimated 250 people are diagnosed with dementia each day, with this number expected to increase substantially as the population ages. In 2020, our researchers and healthcare workers at Lyell McEwin Hospital, Flinders University and The Queen Elizabeth Hospital:
Upgraded the skills of clinical staff working within older people’s mental health to provide best practice and patient-centred care
Commenced research into improving care in hospitals for people with dementia to reduce patient distress and prevent challenging behaviours
Continued research into whether a common heart disorder is associated with a higher risk of dementia and whether screening guidelines need to be adapted
Facilitated a hands-on therapy project for older people in hospital with Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia (BPSD) where they can build and decorate bird boxes from flatpacks.
1.2 million Australians are living with diabetes, with one new diagnosis every five minutes. In 2020, our researchers and clinicians at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Basil Hetzel Institute and SAHMRI:
Continued making advancements in 3D printing islet cells for transplant into people with severe Type 1 diabetes
Tested a unique therapy which aims to promote blood vessel growth for diabetic patients who are more prone to impaired wound healing and amputations
Investigated the diabetesinequalities in Indigenous Australians and ways to overcome these challenges
Investigated whether bitter supplements reduce the appetite of people with Type 2 diabetes and therefore allow better control of blood glucose levels and health risks
Continued research into how artificial sweeteners disrupt the control of blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 diabetes
Investigated ways to prevent life-threatening diabetic ketoacidosis
Examined whether time restricted eating (intermittent fasting) can prevent Type 2 diabetes
Investigated the use of antimicrobial dressings to treat chronic foot wounds for diabetics
Continued research to improve the high rates of vision loss in Indigenous Australians battling Type 2 diabetes.
Almost 1.7 million Australians suffer from kidney disease, with more than 16,000 of these sadly succumbing to their complications each year.
In 2020, our researchers and clinicians at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, Centre for Cancer Biology and regional health networks:
Progressed work to establish a Biospherix Chamber in Adelaide to enable faster and safer pancreatic islet transplantation
Began investigating ways to avoid the need for anti-rejection medications for transplant patients
Studied the prevalence of hereditary pancreatitis and its gene profile in order to better understand disease risk, severity and progression
Investigated a new gene Nedd4-2 which shows potential in protecting people against kidney damage from excessive salt intake
Researched the potential for dietary interventions to improve the overall gut health in kidney transplant recipients
Examined ways to prevent the pain and trauma experienced by dialysis patients when having their needles inserted into their vein and complications arising with their AV fistula connection
Many other projects focusing on improving dialysis for patients and ways to support a sustainable renal nursing workforce
Provided art and other creative initiatives as diversional therapy for dialysis patients.
Intellectual disabilities, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, autism and schizophrenia are known as neurodevelopmental disorders, affecting more than 70,000 Australian children under five.
In 2020, our researchers and service providers at the University of Adelaide, Centre for Cancer Biology and local service provider I Can Jump Puddles:
Investigated whether there are genetic markers for neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism, epilepsy, cerebral palsy and intellectual disabilities to improve diagnosis
Explored how a particular type of neuron becomes deﬁcient in the brain of schizophrenic and autistic patients to develop new ways to diagnose, predict and treat schizophrenia and autism
Investigated the genetic markers for neuromuscular disease to help guide care for families and prevent complications
Supported families whose child is newly diagnosed with muscular dystrophy or other neuromuscular condition during the gap between their diagnosis and accessing NDIS support.
Palliative care become an even greater focus in 2020 as we officially welcomed Laurel Palliative Care Foundation to THRF Group in July.
In 2020, our palliative care support:
Delivered the best care and research to the Southern Adelaide Palliative Care service which includes Laurel Hospice, through the Laurel Palliative Care Foundation
Supported the Northern and Central Adelaide Palliative Care services through complementary therapies and infrastructure upgrades
Supported paediatric palliative care through the HAS Foundation and the Women’s and Children’s Health Network, including an important Volunteer and Peer Mentor Program
Investigated the safety and efficacy of both patient-controlled and nurse-controlled infusion pumps to deliver pain medication
Ran programs in schools such as LifeCycles – The LEAF Project (Life, Education, Art, Feelings) to educate and build awareness around death, dying, grief and life cycles.
Parkinson’s SA/NT joined THRF Group in July of 2020 to help improve support, wellbeing services and research for over 8000 people living with Parkinson’s disease in South Australia.
In 2020, the team at Parkinson’s SA/NT:
Provided practical support and advice for people living with Parkinson’s and their families including occupational therapy, exercise and physical movement, emotional wellbeing and relationships, speech pathology, accessing NDIS and more
Ran social activities like singing and writers groups to encourage wellbeing, social contact and peer support
Commenced the establishment of an SA-first MRI imaging centre which specialises in advanced F-DOPA scanning to facilitate research for Parkinson’s disease
Progressed the development of a phone app to support people below 65 with Young Onset Parkinson’s
Promoted research into the long-term effects traumatic brain injuries have on individuals and the increased risks of developing neurogenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s
Provided education on the surgical treatment options available for Parkinson’s.
From fertility issues, conception, the pregnancy cycle, birth and postnatal care, we are proud to support research aimed at helping people grow their families.
In 2020, our researchers at the Women’s & Children’s Hospital, Lyell McEwin Hospital, Flinders Medical Centre, SAHMRI, The University of Adelaide, University of South Australia, and Basil Hetzel Institute:
Investigated ways to predict and prevent pre-eclampsia, a common pregnancy complication which can cause organ failure, blood clotting, restricted growth of the baby and even death
Commenced a study investigating whether a baby’s lack of exposure to peanuts and eggs in the womb and via breastmilk increases their chances of developing an allergy to those foods
Progressed research on developing better medication for treating low breast milk supply in mothers of preterm infants
Continued work on developing a non-invasive test to check for embryo health during the IVF process
Progressed research and support for maternity services and midwifery in Adelaide’s northern suburbs, including the impact COVID-19 had on new mothers
Provided virtual support to rural and remote doctors and midwives so they can administer ultrasounds as part of our ‘Healthy Newborn Project’
Developed new prevention and treatment strategies for postpartum vaginal and perineal infections
Investigated how chronic pelvic pain develops in endometriosis to help identify new treatments for women to improve pain and prevent infertility
Continued to refine the optimal iron treatments needed for pregnant women who are iron deficient to ensure the safety and long-term outcome of both mother and baby
Conducted follow-up appointments on a cohort of women who experienced complications during pregnancy, to mitigate their higher risk of developing premature heart disease.
Sleep is one of the three pillars for a healthy lifestyle, as well as diet and exercise.
In 2020, our sleep researchers at Flinders University, Royal Adelaide Hospital, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Basil Hetzel Institute:
Ran two clinical trials to help develop the first ever medication to treat obstructive sleep apnoea as an alternative to cumbersome CPAP machines
Undertook overnight sleep studies to determine whether the electrophysiological changes experienced by people with sleep apnoea contributed to common heart condition, atrial fibrillation
Implemented new sleep and coping methods for patients staying overnight in hospital to improve their quality of a sleep
Continued sleep trials on the affects that wind turbine and traffic noise have on sleep and the body, with early findings indicating that low frequency noise does impact sleep
Analysed whether poor sleep quality and other factors increased people’s likelihood of experiencing distress and mental health issues during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stroke remains a leading cause of death and disability in Australia. With an ageing population, the incidence of stroke is expected to increase.
In 2020, our stroke researchers at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital and regional health networks:
Participated in world-leading clinical trials which focus on stroke treatment in the emergency stage, the care immediately after stroke and secondary prevention
Investigated what causes Transient Ischaemic Attacks (TIA), or mini strokes, with the hope of developing a diagnostic test for TIAs
Researched ways to repair the brain following stroke using adult stem cells
Started planning for a pilot study to determine if visits by a therapy dog improve the mood of stroke patients, their visitors and stroke unit staff
Commenced an Adelaide Stroke Incidence Study to identify stroke trends in Adelaide and evaluate future care and resource allocation
Investigating the sustainability of a regional stroke coordinator to improve outcomes for rural South Australians
Continued a promising trial which tests Botox therapy on stroke patients with lower limb spasticity.
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