25 February 2010
Action Medical Research has announced the following medical research grants:
1. Epilepsy – using light therapy as a possible treatment
Dr S Baxendale, Department of Clinical and Experimental Epilepsy, Institute of Neurology, National hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, University College London. Award £43,725. Eighteen months. Researchers are running a clinical trial to find out whether light therapy helps people with epilepsy. If it does, it could be a very significant medical breakthrough.
2. Preterm birth – developing a brain atlas
Prof A D Edwards, Prof D Rueckert. Department of Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London. Award £148,510. Three years. Around 50,000 babies are born prematurely each year in the UK, putting them at risk of death and disability. MRI scans can reveal whether babies have any brain damage that is likely to cause problems as they grow and develop. Researchers are developing a way to automate the analysis of these MRI scans, so many more babies can benefit.
3. Brittle bone disease in children
Dr P V Guillot, Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology (IRDB), Hammersmith Hospital, London. Award £180,346. Three years.
Children with brittle bone disease have such fragile bones they can suffer fracture after fracture. The disease can cause other problems too, such as hearing loss and retarded growth. There is no cure, but a recent breakthrough suggests stem cells could have the potential to boost bone strength and cut fracture rates. Researchers are exploring this in the laboratory.
4. Epilepsy in children – looking at genetic causes
Prof. S M Sisodiya, Department of Clinical and Experimental Epilepsy, Institute of Neurology, University College London. Award £176,240. Two years.
Researchers are investigating the genetic causes of epilepsy.
5. Rett syndrome – testing a gene therapy
Prof. A Bird. Wellcome Trust Centre for Biology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh. Award £186,972. Three years.
Rett syndrome is a devastating, developmental disorder that causes profound physical and learning disabilities. In 2007, researchers made the breakthrough discovery that a form of genetic manipulation can reverse symptoms in a laboratory model of Rett syndrome. In this study they hope to provide proof of principle that gene therapy may one day benefit children with Rett syndrome.
6. Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome – identifying genes
Dr D Lim and Prof E R Maher, Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics, School of Medicine, Institute of Biomedical Research, University of Birmingham. Award £131,476. Three years.
Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome affects the growth and development of babies. Researchers are investigating the genetic causes of Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome. They hope to find ways to predict which babies are most at risk of developing specific complications, including cancer, so they can receive appropriate treatment early.
7. The role of oxytocin in preterm birth
Dr V Terzidou, Partuition Research Group, Hammersmith Hospital, Imperial College London. Award 135,307. Three years.
Researchers are investigating how a hormone called oxytocin might help trigger labour including premature labour, by acting on the membranes surrounding the baby. They believe this work could lead to new ways to prevent or delay premature birth.
8. Improving a vaccine to prevent type 1 diabetes
Dr C M Dayan, Henry Wellcome Laboratories for Integrative Neuroscience and Endocrinology, University of Bristol. Award £52,501. One year.
Researchers believe it may one day be possible to vaccinate against type 1 diabetes. Here, they are investigating whether treating the skin prior to vaccination could improve the performance of a future vaccine.
9. Looking for genetic causes of juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME)
Dr K Everett, Molecular Medicine Unit, Institute of Child Health, University College London. Award £54,770. One year.
Researchers are hunting for the genetic causes of JME, with the ultimate aim of improving treatment.
10. Improving MRI techniques to map connections within the developing brain
Prof. M A Rutherford, Robert Steiner Unit and Imaging Sciences Department, MRC Clinical Sciences Centre, Hammersmith Hospital, Imperial College London. Award £149,114. Two years.
11. Developing a multi-media programme to help parents of premature babies assist their baby with coordination and movement skills.
Prof. C Glazebrook, Dividion of Psychiatry, Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham University. Institute for Women’s Health, University College London. Award.£116,044. Two and a half years.
12. Testing a new system to assess vision in children with visual field defects
Dr R A Minns, Department of Child Life and Health, University of Edinburgh. Award £135,562. Three years.
This study will test a new system to assess vision in children with visual field defects.
13. Causes of juvenile arthritis and diabetes in children
Prof. A Brookes, Department of Genetics, University of Leicester. Award £137,330. Two years.
The goal of this study is to investigate if the number of copies of some genes could contribute to the development of type 1diabetes or juvenile arthritis.
14. Pneumonia and meningitis – how does viral infection make them worse?
Prof C L O’Callaghan, Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, University of Leicester, Leicester Royal Infirmary. Department of Biological Sciences. University of Warwick, Coventry. Award £119,218. Two years.
These researchers recently discovered that the RSV virus may make the pneumococcus much more dangerous by making it produce more of a toxin that is essential for the bacteria to cause severe infection. They also showed that RSV caused the pneumococcus to stick to cells in the lung forming huge clumps of bacteria. The team will now investigate these discoveries in detail to discover how RSV makes the pneumococcus more dangerous.
15. Reducing brain damage in babies
Dr D L Taylor, Department of Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience, Hammersmith Hospital, Imperial College London. Award £151,048. Three years.
The team is studying the way in which a lack of oxygen to the brain can cause brain cells to die and lead to cerebral palsy in some premature babies.
16. Testing a novel combination therapy to prevent preterm labour
Dr A M Blanks, Clinical Sciences Research Institute, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick. Institute of Cellular Medicine, Newcastle University. Award £113,437. Two years.
Studying a combination of drug treatments that could delay premature labour.
17. Neurodegenerative disease in children caused by lysosomal storage disorders
D F M Platt, Department of Pharmacology, University of Oxford. Award £119,636. Three years.
The team will test drugs to help children with lyosomal storage disorders – a group of genetic neurodegenerative disorders.
18. Understanding peanut allergy
Dr G Lack, Department of Paediatric Allergy, Department of Asthma, Allergy and Respiratory Science, School of Medicine, Guy’s Hospital, King’s and St Thomas’, Kings College London. Award £149,000. Two years.
The team will investigate the causes of peanut allergy by examining early exposure to low levels of peanut and links to a gene that causes eczema in children.
- ENDS -
Notes to editors:
Action Medical Research is the leading UK-wide medical research charity dedicated to helping babies and children. We know that medical research can save and change children’s lives. For nearly 60 years we have been instrumental in significant medical breakthroughs, including the development of the UK polio vaccine and ultrasound scanning in pregnancy.
Today, we continue to find and fund the very best medical research to help stop the suffering of babies and children caused by disease and disability. We want to make a difference in:
- tackling premature birth and treating sick and vulnerable babies
- helping children affected by disability, disabling conditions and infections
- targeting rare diseases that together severely affect many forgotten children.