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February 2021

DETECT Schools Study Protocol: A Prospective Observational Cohort Surveillance Study Investigating the Impact of COVID-19 in Western Australian Schools

Amidst the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, understanding the transmission dynamics of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is key to providing peace of mind for the community and informing policy-making decisions. While available data suggest that school-aged children are not significant spreaders of SARS-CoV-2, the possibility of transmission in schools remains an ongoing concern, especially among an aging teaching workforce. Even in low-prevalence settings, communities must balance the potential risk of transmission with the need for students' ongoing education.

Published research Academic Biostatistics Influenza Infectious Diseases Human Capability Subsite: Wesfarmers Centre of Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Child Physical Activity, Health and Development Social and Emotional Wellbeing of Aboriginal Young People Geospatial Health and Development
February 2021

Zika Virus Changes Methylation of Genes Involved in Immune Response and Neural Development in Brazilian Babies Born With Congenital Microcephaly

The recent increase in babies born with brain and eye malformations in Brazil is associated with Zika virus (ZIKV) infection in utero. ZIKV alters host DNA methylation in vitro. Using genome-wide DNA methylation profiling we compared 18 babies born with congenital ZIKV microcephaly with 20 controls. We found ZIKV-associated alteration of host methylation patterns, notably at RABGAP1L which is important in brain development, at viral host immunity genes MX1 and ISG15, and in an epigenetic module containing the causal microcephaly gene MCPH1. Our data support the hypothesis that clinical signs of congenital ZIKV are associated with changes in DNA methylation.

Published research Academic Biostatistics Infectious Diseases Genetics and Health
February 2021

Who's declining the "free lunch"? New evidence from the uptake of public child dental benefits

This study provides the first evidence on the determinants of uptake of two recent public dental benefit programs for Australian children and adolescents from disadvantaged families. Using longitudinal data from a nationally representative survey linked to administrative data with accurate information on eligibility and uptake, we find that only a third of all eligible families actually claim their benefits.

Published research Academic Biostatistics Human Capability
January 2021

Small-molecule screen reveals synergy of cell cycle checkpoint kinase inhibitors with DNA-damaging chemotherapies in medulloblastoma

Medulloblastoma (MB) consists of four core molecular subgroups with distinct clinical features and prognoses. Treatment consists of surgery, followed by radiotherapy and cytotoxic chemotherapy. Despite this intensive approach, outcome remains dismal for patients with certain subtypes of MB, namely, MYC-amplified Group 3 and TP53-mutated SHH. Using high-throughput assays, six human MB cell lines were screened against a library of 3208 unique compounds. We identified 45 effective compounds from the screen and found that cell cycle checkpoint kinase (CHK1/2) inhibition synergistically enhanced the cytotoxic activity of clinically used chemotherapeutics cyclophosphamide, cisplatin, and gemcitabine.

Published research Academic Biostatistics Brain Tumour Research Subsite: Cancer