A research project from the University of Queensland in Australia that aims to detect cerebral palsy (CP) in babies has been awarded $1.5 million in funding from the Palaszczuk Government.
Leeane Enoch, the minister for innovation, science and the digital economy, announced that the project received funding as part of the Palaszczuk Government’s $15 million Advance Queensland Innovation Partnerships program.
The project will be led by Roslyn Boyd, a professor from the Queensland Cerebral Palsy and Rehabilitation Research Centre at the University of Queensland. Boyd and her team seek to develop new “toolboxes” of biological and clinical markers to detect the condition at earlier stages.
“Professor Boyd and her team will look to improve the early detection of cerebral palsy in newborn babies at risk of cerebral palsy,” Enoch said in a press release. “About 600 to 700 babies are born with cerebral palsy in Australia every year. Pre-term babies are at a higher risk of developing the condition.”
Children with cerebral palsy usually aren’t diagnosed until well into their second year, often leading to late intervention.
“If you can detect cerebral palsy early, then you can fast-track early intervention programs,” Enoch said. “The first two years of life are a period of rapid neural change so early detection is critical if we are to improve the health and well-being of these children as they grow up.”
Enoch said Boyd is one of Australia’s most trusted authorities on cerebral palsy and has already made considerable advances with older children in managing their condition.
“Professor Boyd definitely has the runs on the board when it comes to tackling cerebral palsy, so we’re very hopeful that she and her team will be successful in translating their innovations into clinical products and technologies, such as smartphone applications and telemedicine, not only helping children and their families, but making Queensland a leader in cerebral palsy rehabilitation,” she said.
The University of Queensland’s project was one of 15 studies to received funding this year. The Innovation Partnerships program is included in the $405 million Advance Queensland initiative, which supports collaborative research and the development of projects bringing research organizations and industries together to address issues in areas such as agriculture, engineering, climate change, biotechnology, and clean energy.
Australia’s Health Minister Cameron Dick said the Advance Queensland Innovation Partnerships funding was an important step towards solving health issues not just in Queensland but around the world.
“Bringing research institutions and industry together is critical in delivering tangible outcomes for Queenslanders,” Dick said. “This approach is proven to deliver results and I look forward to seeing the outcomes from these collaborations.”
Enoch said the program is meant to address one of the biggest issues that consistently blocks the successful commercialization of research in the country: getting industries and research to combine efforts to find solutions that fit the needs of industry and society.
“We’re investing $9.65 million in these 15 projects, with the successful recipients and their project partners contributing a further $15 million,” Enoch said. “The Innovation Partnerships program will boost productivity growth and the competitiveness of existing industries, accelerate the development of emerging industries, and increase the speed and scale of translation of our science and research into new products, services and business models that can help drive economic and jobs growth in Queensland.”