London researchers given more than £450,000 to help sick babies and children | Action Medical Research

London researchers given more than £450,000 to help sick babies and children

3 November 2011

Three leading research teams in London have been given more than £450,000 in grants by children’s charity Action Medical Research, to carry out studies which aim to help reduce the suffering of sick babies and children.

The charity has been supporting significant medical breakthroughs for nearly 60 years, and has today announced the grants awarded to institutions in London, totalling £464,161 for work on childhood cataracts, asthma and epilepsy.

None of the charity’s work would be possible without the generosity of people who make donations, raise funds and take part in events, as well as our trust and corporate partners.

Dr Alexandra Dedman, Senior Research Evaluation Manager, said: “At Action Medical Research we are determined to stop the suffering of babies and children caused by disease and disability. We know that medical research can save and change children’s lives. The charity finds and funds some of the best medical research in the world for the benefit of babies, children and young people.

“Our gold standard scientific review process ensures that we only fund the best doctors and researchers in children’s hospitals, specialist units and universities across the UK and we are delighted to announce these grant awards.”

The full details of the grants awarded are as follows:

Blindness – treating childhood cataracts - £124,840 – two year grant - Institute of Ophthalmology, University College London

There are around 500,000 new cases of childhood blindness worldwide each year and around 39 per cent of these cases are caused by cataracts. The only treatment is surgery, however, virtually all young children who undergo this adult style surgery end up developing a condition called posterior capsule opacity (PCO), sometimes called ‘secondary cataracts’. Cloudy areas develop on the lens of the eye, which if left untreated in children can lead to problems with sight and even blindness. The cloudiness is due to overgrowth of cells that were not removed during the surgery. Current surgical techniques to reduce PCO are technically difficult and can increase the risk of further complications. The researchers are hoping to find a way to prevent PCO. They have developed a therapy to safely remove these harmful cells during surgery and want to test this treatment further.

Asthma – early diagnosis - £149,264 – two year grant - Faculty of Medicine, National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London in conjunction with Respiratory Paediatrics, Royal Brompton Hospital, London

In the UK, 1.1 million children have asthma, a disease which affects the airways. Many different factors are implicated in asthma development, including infection and allergies. Most asthma begins in early childhood, but currently it can only be diagnosed at school age. Wheezing is relatively common in children under 5 years old, however, only about one third of them will eventually develop asthma. At the moment we cannot predict who will develop the disease. The researchers want to identify potentially asthmatic children early, in the preschool years.

Epilepsy – improving brain scanning before surgery - £190,057 – three year grant - Imaging and Biophysics Unit and Neurosciences Unit, Institute of Child Health, University College London, in conjunction with the Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Epilepsy is a disorder of the brain which causes seizures. Epilepsy can cause physical injury and even death but is also strongly associated with behavioural and developmental problems when suffered in childhood. In the UK alone there are an estimated 58,000 children under 18 with epilepsy. Surgery in childhood can dramatically improve the lives of epilepsy sufferers by stopping seizures. These researchers aim to develop a better, more child-friendly method of identifying brain areas for surgery.


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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.

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