Federal Government funds research into cerebral palsy

Federal Government funds research into cerebral palsy
Posted on Tue 19 Jun 2018

The Federal Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, announced $2 million in funding for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation (CPARF).

The money will go towards four key priorities that were set by Australians living with cerebral palsy and their families.

The grant was welcomed by the CEO of Cerebral Palsy Alliance, Rob White. “Cerebral palsy research has reached a critical point where new technologies are providing research opportunities never previously possible,” he says.

“The time is right to accelerate the search for better treatments and a cure. This funding will go a long way to provide hope, empowerment and lasting change through world-leading research.”

Every year, more than 600 babies are born with cerebral palsy in Australia and there are currently 17 million people living with the disability worldwide. The condition costs the Australian economy $1.47 billion each year in lost income and costs of care.

The CPARF has been driving exponential breakthroughs in the prevention, treatment and cure of cerebral palsy since its establishment in 2005. This has included a reduction in the incidence of cerebral palsy by 20 per cent from 1 in 400 Australian live births to 1 in 600. In addition, it has introduced standardised tools for diagnosis of infants as young as 12 weeks.

The $2 million in funding was also welcomed by Professor Nadia Badawi AM, Macquarie Group Foundation Professor and Chair of Cerebral Palsy, The University of Sydney.

“More work needs to be done to change the perception of cerebral palsy, which has been described as ‘a condition with permanent, lifelong disability – and little possibility of prevention and even less of cure’,” Professor Badawi says. “Strategic investments in innovation and research are required to accelerate progress. It is so heartening to see the Government get behind this vital research.”

The funding will directly contribute to future research in the prevention, treatment and cure of cerebral palsy with a focus on four priorities:

  1. Making early diagnosis and treatment of cerebral palsy standard care in Australia
  2. Clinical trials of new interventions in high risk infants, including stem cells
  3. Feasibility and acceptability trial of TheraSuit® intensive therapy 
  4. New therapies to prevent cerebral palsy during pregnancy

Cerebral Palsy Alliance established CPARF to fund Australian and international research in prevention and treatment, and ultimately to find a cure for cerebral palsy. CPARF is committed to improving the quality of life of people with cerebral palsy by funding research into improving early diagnosis tools (which can reduce the long-term impact of the disability), treatments (interventions) and technology innovations.

In announcing the $2 million grant, the Minister said the money will be made available through the Government’s $20 billion investment in the Medical Research Future Fund. “It is my hope that further research and advancement in medical technology including genomics will change the lives of those with cerebral palsy. Many cases of cerebral palsy have been shown to have a genomics link.”

The funding for the CPARF builds on the May Budget when the Federal Government announced the $500 million, 10-year Australian Genomics Health Futures Mission that will help more Australians live longer and receive better treatment tailored to their medical needs.

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