$4.9m MRFF grant awarded to the MEGA-SCORES group for a large sepsis trial

Researchers from the Florey Institute and the Department of Critical Care will lead clinical trials across Australia to test a transformative therapy for patients with sepsis in intensive care units.

Sepsis, the dysregulated immune response to underlying infection that can lead to multiple organ failure and critical illness, affects nearly 50 million people each year.  It is responsible for 11 million deaths every year globally, with the greatest burden being felt by vulnerable populations, especially in low-income and developing countries.

Sodium ascorbate, a pH-balanced formulation of vitamin C validated and patented by The Florey offers hope as a novel treatment for sepsis, the first in several decades. In recent preclinical studies, sodium ascorbate has been shown to reverse sepsis-induced brain, kidney, and cardiovascular dysfunction – a world-first for any treatment.

The MEGA-SCORES research group brings emerging national and international leaders across a range of discovery science disciplines together with clinician-scientists from across Australia and has been created to promote bi-directional bench-to-bedside critical care research.  Having received a $4.9 million funding boost from the Australian Federal Government’s Medical Research Future Fund Early-to-Mid-Career Researcher (EMCR) grant, the group is now ready to take this sodium ascorbate formulation into clinical trials across Australia.

“This potentially life-saving treatment could be transformative for how sepsis is managed in Australia and across the world” said the research program’s lead investigator A/Prof Lankadeva

Scientific leaders are based across multiple research institutes including The Florey (A/Prof Yugeesh Lankadeva, Dr Lindsea Booth, Dr Connie Ow, Prof Clive May, Dr Ashenafi Betrie), The Doherty Institute (Dr Laura Cook, Prof Antoine Roquilly), Monash University (Dr Shu Wen Wen, A/Prof Connie Wong), Peter McCallum Cancer Centre (Dr Jen Baquier), and Walter & Eliza Hall Institute (Dr Samantha Emery) to understand the effects of sodium ascorbate on physiological, biochemical and immunological systems.

Clinicians from Royal Adelaide Hospital (A/Prof Mark Plummer), Austin Health (Prof Rinaldo Bellomo & Dr Neil Glassford), The Royal Melbourne Hospital (Dr Emily See), Monash Health (Prof Yahya Shehabi), Alice Springs Hospital (Dr Paul Secombe), Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (Prof Michael Reade), St George's Hospital (Prof Manoj Saxena) and Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital (Dr Alex Wood) will use these insights to implement clinical trials across Mainland Australia.

“This funding now enables us to further investigate the safety and efficacy of this transformative therapy to reverse multi-organ failure in human sepsis” said A/Prof Plummer.

“It will also help us determine the optimal dose and treatment duration that can be used by clinicians in intensive care units to prevent the devastating consequences of sepsis” said Dr See.

“This research program also provides a world-class training, development, and innovation platform for our outstanding team of EMCRs. The senior scientific and clinician advisory team will provide practical support, high-level strategic advice, vertical mentoring, and networking opportunities beyond the scope of most collaborations.” said A/Prof Lankadeva.

“There will be diverse opportunities to develop as a supervisor, as a collaborator and to disseminate knowledge, with horizontal mentoring deepening EMCR’s understanding of both clinical trials and discovery science,” said Dr Booth.

“Our vision for this research program is to create a tangible legacy: a generation of galvanised preclinical and clinical research future leaders capable of translating discovery science into clinical practice to effect change and improve patient outcomes,” said A/Prof Lankadeva.

MRFF Research Team

MRFF Research Team