How Georgia’s new clinical trial role is helping patients with genetic emphysema

Inherited from your parents, Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, also known as AATD emphysema, is a genetic condition that can cause chronic lung and liver disease.

Early symptoms including shortness of breath, reduced ability to exercise and wheezing, appear between the ages 25 and 50, and management is key in slowing down the progress of the disease.  

Peninsula Health is one of two Victorian health services participating in a new clinical trial designed to change the current state and standard of care for adults with AATD emphysema.

Coordinated by Respiratory Nurse Georgia Noonan, the phase two study led by Professor David Langton compares INBRX-101 to plasma derived alpha-1-proteinase inhibitor (A1PI) therapy in adults with AATD emphysema.

In her new role as a trial coordinator, Georgia has been fortunate enough to learn about research and clinical trials through the support of her colleagues.

“I have really enjoyed taking on this project from the start with the support of the Research Governance Officer, my team, and Professor Langton,” says Georgia.

“Learning about the processes involved in ensuring that the project is safe and ethically sound for the participants has been really interesting,” she adds.

Committed to delivering personalised care and support to each trial participant, Georgia makes it a priority to check in with each participant to ensure they’re treatment continues to be effective. 

“We check in weekly with each participant, so have very close contact,” she says. “Naturally touching base with patients that often, makes it a lot easier to keep that rapport and make sure that they feel supported.”

Georgia had previously worked as an anaesthetic nurse within Peninsula Health’s surgical services unit before moving to more specialised respiratory care.

“In anaesthetic nursing, you’re always advocating for the patient, and that’s the same for my role as the trial coordinator,” she says.

“It’s not necessarily something that I thought a nursing career would lead into, which has been really exciting, but definitely still enjoy having that face to face contact with patients, and applying my clinical skills where needed.”

“Being a rare illness, it is great to have the spotlight on AATD and to be contributing to making advancements in patient care that will hopefully improve their health outcomes,” says Georgia.

“If you have an interest in research or respiratory medicine Peninsula Health is a really great place to work and to feel like you are contributing to modern medicine.”

The phase two clinical trial is currently open for recruitment and is being conducted out of Frankston Hospital.