Top medical research investment over 60 years in North of England made possible by children's charity | Action Medical Research

Top medical research investment over 60 years in North of England made possible by children's charity

5 January 2012

Children’s charity Action Medical Research is celebrating investing more than £100 million into vital medical research over the past 60 years, which has led to some key scientific breakthroughs to help reduce the suffering of sick babies and children.

Research funded over the years has included pioneering work carried out across the North of England including Newcastle, Manchester and Liverpool. Important research into devastating conditions is still being funded in the region today – see below for a full list of current projects.

The charity was originally founded in 1952, by Duncan Guthrie, in his quest to find a cure for polio, a condition that blighted the lives of many thousands of children including his own daughter Janet. Early research funded by the charity led to the development and rapid adoption of the first oral polio vaccine which eradicated new cases of the disease in the UK.

Since then the charity has developed an extraordinary track record in supporting some of the most significant medical breakthroughs in recent history – breakthroughs that have helped save thousands of children’s lives and changed many more.
Over the last six decades, Action Medical Research has awarded hundreds of grants and Research Training Fellowships to top scientists at institutions across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Key successes achieved through the years include:
• helping introduce ultrasound scanning in pregnancy
• discovering the importance of taking folic acid before and during pregnancy to prevent spina bifida
• developing an infra-red scanner to help minimise risk of brain damage in babies
• developing a new state-of-the-art fetal heart rate monitor to make pregnancy safer for babies at risk
• helping to show that cooling the brain can minimise brain damage in some newborn babies deprived of oxygen at birth, reducing risk of death and severe disability.
• supporting the lead researcher whose team helped establish a vaccine for meningitis
• testing the early rubella vaccine – which became part of the first MMR vaccine.

Professor David Edwards, a pioneer in the development of treatments for newborn babies with brain damage, said: “The work supported by Action Medical Research at hospitals and universities over the decades has had a great impact on the lives of babies and children.

“The breadth and diversity of research supported in the past 60 years clearly demonstrates the importance of the funding this charity has provided. They have also supported the research careers of our most promising young doctors and scientists, many of whom have gone onto great success as a result.

“Without the support given by Action Medical Research over the past 60 years, the research and the subsequent medical breakthroughs and treatments which save lives, simply wouldn’t have been possible. I am sure they will continue to fund vital research and make a difference to the lives of babies and children for many years to come.”

Although the research we have funded has helped save and change so many children’s lives, there is still so much more to learn about what triggers diseases, how to prevent them and how to develop effective new treatments and find the best ways to care for sick babies and children. Today, Action Medical Research plays a vital role as the leading UK-wide medical research charity dedicated to helping babies and children.

The charity currently awards around £3 million in grants and Research Training Fellowships every year, funding around 70 research projects at any one time. Current projects being supported by the charity in the North of England include:

Vitamin D deficiency in South Asian children in the UK – University of Manchester, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, Manchester Royal Infirmary.
Corneal fragility – brittle cornea syndrome
St Mary’s Hospital Manchester and University of Manchester
Meningitis, septicaemia and pneumonia – assessing a novel vaccine
University of Liverpool, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Liverpool, with the University of Glasgow
Learning disabilities – identifying the causes – University of Manchester
Fetal growth restriction and placental blood flow
St Mary’s Hospital, Manchester
Brain cancer in young children – Newcastle University

Case study
When Jack, from Hartlepool, swoops into the room with his red wellies on wanting to be a fireman, mum Lisa smiles with pride. Jack has come through brain surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy; he is her little hero already. He is just five years old. Lisa, from Hartlepool, first thought her 14-month-old son just had a tummy bug when he started being sick. But she watched Jack get worse and worse in hospital and within 24 hours he was diagnosed with cancer. “The doctor held my hand and told me Jack had a brain tumour, it was such a shock.”

Jack was suffering from a rare form of medulloblastoma – a brain tumour, which children under three are particularly vulnerable to. He had brain surgery to remove the tumour, followed by a gruelling year-long treatment schedule including chemotherapy and radiotherapy. He is now scanned every year to check the cancer has not returned.

For further information please contact: Toni Slater, Interim Communications Manager, T: 01403 327478
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Action Medical Research - the leading UK-wide medical research charity dedicated to helping babies and children - is celebrating 60 years of vital research in 2012. We’ve been funding medical breakthroughs since we began in 1952 and have spent more than £100 million on research that has helped save thousands of children’s lives and changed many more. 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

But there is still so much more to do. Make 2012 a special year and help fund more life-changing research for some of the UK’s sickest babies and children.

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