Griffith receives $1M for vaccine development

A team of Griffith University researchers has received more than $1 million to find new vaccine targets for diseases which cause meningitis, gonorrhoea and middle ear infections.

“I want to understand everything I can about these diseases so people don’t have to suffer unnecessarily,” Gold Coast’s Institute for Glycomics researcher, Dr Kate Seib said.

“Meningococcal disease is very hard to detect and can kill in less than six hours. You want a vaccine so you don’t have to rely on correct and fast diagnosis”.

Dr Seib said while gonorrhoea, a sexually transmitted infection, was not commonly talked about it infects 106 million people a year worldwide and is associated with infertility and increased transmission of HIV.

“There is currently no vaccine for gonorrhoea and we are on our last option of antibiotics due to antibiotic resistance so it is essential we put money and time in this before it becomes an untreatable problem.”

Dr Kate Seib said it was essential projects which explore these diseases were funded as they affect such a large number of people worldwide.

The research grants from the prestigious National Health and Medical Research Council will fund two key projects, which will be conducted with Dr Chris Day and Dr John Attack.

One project, titled ‘The glyco-interactome of pathogenic Neisseria: understanding disease and defining vaccine targets,’ has received $436,012 and the other, titled ‘Phasevarion mediated virulence mechanisms of the human pathogens Moraxella catarrhalis and non-typeable Haemophilus influenzae’ received $641,979.

The Institute for Glycomics received a total of $4.17 million for five projects and two fellowships, which explore various bacteria and their infection pathways, and viruses that have long-term health impacts such as arthritis. This is a 41.6 per cent success rate in the project grant scheme, which is three times the national average of 13.5 per cent.

Dr Seib’s first project explores Neisseria meningitidis, which causes meningitis and sepsis, together with Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which causes gonorrhoea. These bacteria cause very different diseases but come from the same family and share many common proteins.

The second project will explore the mechanisms that contribute to disease caused by the bacteria Moraxella catarrhalis and non-typeable Haemophilus influenzae, which are two major causes of middle ear infections in children and respiratory disease in adults.

Dr Seib said this research will aid vaccine development by defining the repertoire of stably expressed potential vaccine targets of these bacteria and will improve our understanding of how these bacteria are able to adapt to their host and avoid killing by the immune system. She said both these projects involved diseases that only infected humans.

“We need to develop vaccines for these diseases as it is essential to prevent them rather than just treat them,” she said.

Institute Director Professor Mark von Itzstein congratulated Dr Seib and her colleagues on their grant success and said it further confirmed the Institute’s reputation as a leading biomedical research institute.

“Our research is a brave new frontier and we are making exciting advances towards the discovery of new drugs, vaccines and diagnostics for significant diseases,” he said.

Signs You Might Lack Iron, and 9 Iron-Rich Foods To Add To Your Diet

Have you been feeling tired lately even though you have been getting a good night’s sleep every night? If so you could be suffering from an iron deficiency without even knowing it, especially if you are a woman. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 10% of women are iron deficient and don’t even know it.

The Importance of Iron to the Body

While most people don’t consider iron as being a nutrient, it is actually an essential mineral to the human body. Iron is an important component of hemoglobin, the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout your body. If your iron levels are low, your body will not get the oxygen it needs to function as it should leading to symptoms such as fatigue.

Steak - Great Source of Iron
Iron also has other important uses to your body. It is essential in maintaining healthy skin, hair and nails. So, if you want to look your best, you need to be sure you get enough iron.

Symptoms of Iron Deficiency

In the beginning, symptoms for iron deficiency may be so mild that they simply go unnoticed. However, as your body becomes more and more depleted of iron and the anemia increases, the signs and symptoms will increase. Some of the most common iron deficiency symptoms are:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Pale skin
  • Weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Frequent infections
  • Headache
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Inflammation or soreness of your tongue
  • Brittle nails
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances, such as ice, dirt or starch
  • Poor appetite, especially in infants and children with iron deficiency anemia
  • An uncomfortable tingling or crawling feeling in your legs (restless legs syndrome)

If you or one of your loved ones develops these symptoms and you are unsure what the underlying cause actually is, see your doctor. Iron deficiency cannot be self diagnosed and self treatment is for the most part limited to what you choose to eat. A doctor will be able to prescribe the best treatment including diet changes and even iron supplements to return your iron levels back to normal.

Five Reasons You May Need Iron Supplements

There are many reasons why a doctor might prescribe iron supplements to you on top of making changes to your diet in order to get your iron levels back to a normal level.

1. You are anemic

Iron deficiency anemia is the lack of iron in your blood that prevents it from transporting oxygen to all the cells in your body. There are many causes of this condition ranging from cancer to menstruation. While you should also investigate the cause, it is important to get your iron levels back to normal to ensure you are as healthy as you can be.

2. You are pregnant

Women who are pregnant need much more iron than women that aren’t. The recommended daily dose of iron for pregnant women is 27 mg each day. If you cannot get this iron through your diet, doctors will prescribe supplements in order to be sure your iron levels stay at the level needed.

3. You experience regular blood loss

Anyone who loses a lot of blood will need an iron supplement to return their levels back to normal. People who donate blood regularly need the supplements to ensure that their iron levels stay in the normal range.

4. You have an infant

Babies build stores of excess iron to be used during the first six months of life because their mother’s milk doesn’t contain enough iron. Most pediatricians recommend a formula that contains iron if you bottle-feed. If your baby was born premature, the iron stores more than likely did not have time to develop. If this is the case, your doctor may prescribe an additional iron supplement.

5. You take iron depleting medication

Some medications will quickly deplete your iron levels. In order to prevent this from happening, most physicians will prescribe an iron supplement alongside the medications to ensure that you don’t become anemic as a result of your medication.

Good Sources of Iron

Most people get all the iron they need from the food they eat. By altering your diet, you can increase the amount of iron you get daily without having to take supplements. Some foods that are rich in iron are:

  • Red meat
  • Pork
  • Poultry
  • Seafood
  • Beans
  • Dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach
  • Dried fruit, such as raisins and apricots
  • Iron-fortified cereals, breads and pastas
  • Peas

Before you begin any type of diet, be sure you consult with your doctor or other health care professional to be sure it is safe and the right choice for your health.

Iron deficiency is one of the most common anemias in the United States. In many cases, it can be easily treatable with the help of your diet and, if needed, iron supplements. After a few days on the supplements, you should start to feel normal again. As always, if you don’t feel any different after taking the iron, consult with your doctor and get the help you need to take care of your iron deficiency once and for all.

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