Australia’s largest clinical trial to share in millions


Trial of daily aspirin use for disease prevention in older Australians will receive part of $483 million in grants for health and medical research announced by the Minister for Health

More than 1900 researchers will share in the funding, which will support 601 grants across four National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grant schemes.

Professor John McNeil of Monash University was awarded $4,796,724 for the ASPirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly (ASPREE) trial, the biggest clinical trial to be undertaken in Australia.

The randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study will determine if a daily low dose of aspirin could prevent disease in healthy older people, including cardiovascular disease, dementia, depression and some cancers.

It is a joint Australia/US collaboration involving 16,700 Australians aged 70 and over and more than 2,000 Australian GP collaborators, with another 2,500 participants in the US.

Other projects funded will look at predicting the progressive phase of multiple sclerosis; understanding the association between traumatic brain injury and Alzheimer’s disease; footwear for self-managing knee osteoarthritis symptoms; understanding the health impacts of sleep apnoea in Australian men; implementing population-based genetic testing for high-risk breast and ovarian cancer predisposition genes; and understanding the early disease mechanisms of motor neurone disease.

Health Minister Sussan Ley says the Federal Government is committed to continuing medical research investment.

“We know that every dollar invested in medical research returns on average more than $2 in benefits through reducing the burden of disease and driving productivity.

“This $483 million investment allows our researchers to continue with their world-class and internationally-renowned research.

“It includes $23 million for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research, $35 million for mental health research and $123 million for cancer research, among other diseases and conditions.

“The Turnbull Government continues to lead the way in protecting our health now and into the future. From 2013 to 2016, funding under the NHMRC has increased by $100 million from $750 million to more than $850 million.

“Over the next year the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) will distribute an additional $61 million into new research, over and above NHMRC grant funding.”

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