The University of Queensland and Brisbane company Ellume Pty Ltd diagnostic healthcare will work to develop an ultra-sensitive test to help diagnose one of the most common causes of childhood lung infections.

Ellume was awarded $50,000 funding and UQ $10,000 funding in round one of the Queensland Government’s Knowledge Transfer Partnerships program.

They will partner in a 12 month-project help diagnose respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). This is a major cause of lower respiratory tract infections causing pneumonia and bronchiolitis in infants and young children.

Professor of Virology and head of UQ’s School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences Professor Paul Young heads a laboratory with particular expertise in subunit vaccines for RSV.

A subunit vaccine contains isolated proteins from a virus, but lacks viral nucleic acid.  These vaccines expose the body to disease so it can learn to recognise them.  As subunit vaccines do not contain live components they are considered very safe.

Last year a UQ team published an expert review of recent advances in the development of subunit-based RSV vaccines.

Professor Young said RSV also caused serious illness in the elderly, immune-compromised patients and people with pulmonary or cardiac problems.

“During the first two years of life, all children experience RSV infection, with recurrent infections throughout life also common,” he said.

“RSV-infected children under one years of age are the most commonly hospitalised, with RSV infection estimated to be responsible for 6.7 per cent of total deaths globally in this age group in 2010. 

“In the elderly, RSV has been estimated to cause 11 per cent of all pneumonia-related hospitalisations.”

Postdoctoral researcher Dr Laure Martine will be based at Ellume to work on the project.

Ellume managing director Sean Parsons said the scheme would help transfer knowledge from UQ to his company, for the benefit of the market.

A total of 22 businesses, in partnership with six universities across Queensland, will share in a total of $1.16 million under the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships program.

The funding will enable these small and medium sized enterprises to employ a university graduate to assist with an innovative project designed to grow their business.

The funding will subsidise up to two-thirds of the cost of employing a graduate from partnering universities, while the business will contribute one-third of the cost.

Media: Professor Paul Young, +61 7 336 54646 p.young@uq.edu.au, or Sean Parsons, +61 7 3393 1448, sean.parsons@ellume.com.au

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