Respiratory Medicine Research Unit

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Research on lung disease within the Department of Respiratory Medicine is carried out under the auspices of the Respiratory Medicine Research Group (RMRG), which was established in 1998 as The Children's Chest Research Centre. Its well-functioning clinical research team conducts research projects which have proved to have significant clinical applicability. It has also established a number of important internal and external research collaborations.

Research focuses on the causes, diagnosis, investigation and treatment of respiratory illness in children, in particular cystic fibrosis, asthma and the respiratory consequences of extremely preterm birth.

Research achievements

In addition to making a significant contribution to the foundation of the Exercise Testing Laboratory located within CHISM, members of the RMRG have been involved in the acquisition of equipment in the Kids Activity Research Centre (KARC). This has established exercise testing as an important tool in the assessment of children with chronic lung diseases and other chronic diseases which may impact on cardiopulmonary functioning.

As a result of a long-term follow up of children born extremely prematurely, there is some evidence that only a mild impairment of lung function can be expected in at least a proportion of these children by the age of 10. This evidence can now be added to the body information provided to the parents of extremely premature neonates when they are making crucial decisions about their infant's care.

RMRG contributed to a study of over 1000 infants showing that the asthma medication Montelukast is of no benefit in treating bronchiolitis despite the inflammation in the airways in these diseases having similar mechanisms. It has also been involved with the evaluation of formulations of antibiotics developed specifically for nebulisation for children with cystic fibrosis, at least one of which is the subject of a marketing application in Australia. It has also been involved in studies with dry powder mannitol, both as a diagnostic test for children with asthma and as a treatment for children with cystic fibrosis.

An up to date data registry of cystic fibrosis patients was introduced in early 2008. Its data enables doctors to monitor the health of children after changes are made to their care, for example the effect of a dietician on managing the children's nutrition. The registry also enables the production of an up-to-date clinical report for each patient prior to clinic visits – such reports have been shown yo engage families more in goal setting for their children.