Chronic Rhinosinusitis and Otitis in Aboriginal Australians

UQCCR Professor Anders Cervin and his research team are endeavouring to relieve the suffering of patients experiencing recurrent sinus and ear infections.

From the airways of healthy individuals, the team has identified a number of friendly bacterial strains that correspond with health and are ready to translate these findings into innovative new treatments.

In a clinical trial scheduled for next year, the researchers hope to re-establish the healthy sinus in patients experiencing recurrent sinus infections through the use of a probiotic bacterial nasal spray.

An investigator for the Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre (AID), Professor Cervin believes that probiotic treatments could easily work hand in hand with antibiotics.

“Similar to how planting grass seeds on a patch of cleared soil in the garden will reduce the growth of weeds, probiotic treatments could be given after antibiotics to inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacterial strains in the sinus,” he said.

"Patients would be able to take the probiotic spray home and administer it to themselves."

The ambitious research team has also been designing a probiotic spray specific for indigenous Australians to give much needed relief for chronic ear infections.

Indigenous children are burdened by a particularly severe form of ear infection, having one of the highest rates of ear infection in the world.

Even with all of today’s medical advances, it is common for indigenous newborn infants and toddlers to endure many of their days with ears full of infection.

These relentless infections often rupture the tympanic membrane, leaving many Australian indigenous children to face the challenges of school with significant hearing loss. 

Australians want indigenous children to reach their full potential and the government has responded by calling on Australian scientists to make breakthroughs in this area.

Professor Cervin’s team believe that a probiotic treatment tailored to indigenous Australians could reduce ear infections.  

A microbiology team led by Dr Hanna Sidjabat has been working within the Infection and Immunity Theme at the University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research to identify the bacterial strains live in the ears of indigenous children in two Queensland Aboriginal communities.

The microbiology team known as the Probiotic and Discovery and Development team has been able to find friendly bacterial strains that correlate with ear health. This team is now busy designing a probiotic bacterial treatment specifically for indigenous children.