In Papua New Guinea, 1500+ women die every year from childbirth-related causes – 80 times higher than in Australia. And these deaths are, mostly, preventable.
A bold and innovative collaborative research project into women’s sexual and reproductive health, led by Burnet Institute’s Professor Gilda Tachedjian, has won a major competitive funding grant to fast track its development from concept to outcome.
The ambitious idea of creating a novel device with the potential to regulate the vaginal microbiota over a woman’s lifetime, help prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV, and also provide contraception, has attracted Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Frontier Health and Medical Research Program funding of AUD$895,000.
The EVE-M (Enhancing the Vaginal Environment and Microbiome) project brings together a multidisciplinary team from Burnet Institute, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne Sexual Health Centre (The Alfred and Monash University), Deakin University, Family Planning NSW, Institute for Genome Sciences, University of Maryland (Baltimore), and Eudaemon Technologies Pty Ltd.
Burnet Institute’s Head of Life Sciences, and Principal Investigator, Professor Gilda Tachedjian said: “This is a tremendous opportunity to advance our concept of improving women’s sexual reproductive health through innovative technologies that target the vaginal microbiota. What this funding support does is take our high-impact ideas and gives us the resources to progress these as part of a multidisciplinary team.”
“One of these technologies is an intravaginal ring that could release a molecule to help enhance the mucosal environment and ‘optimise’ microbiota in the vaginal tract to prevent STIs and HIV, as well as adverse reproductive health outcomes. And, we want to embed contraception to prevent unplanned pregnancies too.
“The global burden, the health and economic cost of STIs, bacterial vaginosis and unplanned pregnancies are estimated to cost over 70 billion dollars a year.”
Burnet Institute Director and CEO, Professor Brendan Crabb AC congratulated Professor Tachedjian and her collaborators on securing the unique funding.
“It’s an extraordinary outcome for the team who have a bold vision of transforming the antiquated current sexual and reproductive health toolkit, and it provides an opportunity for a paradigm shift in women’s sexual and reproductive health,” Professor Crabb said.
“This new source of funding is supporting cutting-edge research that has the potential to have a transformative impact on human health and immediate global impact.
“This underscores what Burnet’s about, translating our discoveries into practical health outcomes.”