Specialists see surge in child volunteers

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LEADING specialists are hailing a big increase in children taking part in research at a Yorkshire hospital.

Research studies are up 38 per cent at Sheffield Children’s Hospital where more than 1,000 patients took part in medical trials in 2013 for the first time.

Figures published today show 120 research studies were in place to develop treatment and services, with numbers taking part up by 18.5 per cent.

Pioneering work is taking place in a range of areas including bone disease, genetics, radiology, respiratory disease, and cancer and blood diseases.

Paul Dimitri, director of research and innovation at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Research is the future of medical care.

“Thanks to a better understanding of how research works, more families than ever are willing to play a part in improving the healthcare for children in the future. It is through research and innovation that we strive to ensure that our children receive the best treatments and have access to the best facilities.”

A key element in the growth has been the creation of a dedicated clinical research facility, the first of its kind in the UK, in 2008.

Among key projects, specialists in the respiratory team have led on a national trial looking at medications to treat bronchiolitis in babies.

In another study, data is being collected on around 35 youngsters with juvenile Huntington’s disease across Europe. There is very little research in the area and no cure or preventative treatment for the disease but it is hoped the work could lead to trials which will eventually yield a cure.

A study of newborn babies is screening for five rare metabolic diseases to help identify children with the illnesses before they become unwell. Three of these conditions may soon be screened for nationally.