Touching Lives - October 2009
Brand new projects to improve child health
In July this year, the charity awarded its first batch of research project grants as part of our new child health focus. This follows hot on the heels of the first child-focused Research Training Fellowships awarded in March. The nine exciting new projects cover a range of conditions affecting pregnancy, babies and children.
A London-based team is investigating if stem cells could treat a brittle bone disease affecting children, while an Edinburgh group is testing a gene therapy for Rett syndrome, a very serious autism-spectrum disorder mainly affecting girls. Finding a disease’s genetic origins is an important step towards novel treatments, and two of the new studies are looking for genetic causes of epilepsy in children. Another is investigating if light therapy could treat epilepsy.
We also have projects in the South West and West Midlands. A Bristol researcher is looking to improve the effectiveness of a vaccine being developed for type 1 diabetes, while a Birmingham group is aiming to identify genes affecting growth and the development of childhood cancer in the rare disorder Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome. Lastly, two projects have relevance to premature birth. One is investigating how a particular hormone helps labour start and its relevance to preterm labour. The other is developing a ‘map’ of brain area sizes in newborns, which could help predict how likely premature babies are to develop problems later. These cutting-edge projects will join the charity’s other ongoing studies to help improve the lives of babies, children and their families.