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Manchester BRC awards £100k for clinical trials

Premature babies and people with heart disease are set to benefit from two phase 1 clinical trials which have each been awarded £50,000 in funding by the National Institute for Health Research Manchester Biomedical Research Centre (NIHR BRC).

Dr Suresh Victor and Prof Leon Aarons plan to study the use of the drug sitaxsentan in preventing lung inflammation among premature babies born before 32 weeks' gestation who have a condition known as bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), and require additional oxygen to help them breathe. In England 7000 babies are born at high risk of BPD each year, and about half of them need supplemental oxygen at 36 weeks' gestation. This imposes a significant burden on families and the NHS. The limitations of current treatments have prompted a search for other interventions.

Sitaxsentan is licensed for use in treating chronic heart failure and pulmonary hypertension in adults, but there are no studies on its use in preventing BPD in premature babies. Dr Victor and Prof Evans will therefore run a 12 month randomised control trial with babies born before 28 weeks to investigate whether sitaxsentan is an effective way to prevent BPD in this vulnerable patient group.

Adam Greenstein, Rayaz Malik, Sarah Withers and Anthony Heagerty will run a clinical trial involving a new molecule therapy to prevent selected patients with metabolic syndrome suffering inflammation and damage to the tissue around their arteries. When the tissue surrounding arteries is inflamed and damaged, it can lead to higher blood pressure and insulin resistance. Pre-clinical studies have shown that treatment with a molecule known as an aldosterone antagonist can reverse obesity related high blood pressure, insulin resistance and tissue inflammation. The next step is to carry out the first clinical trial of the molecule in patients.

Thirty patients will be recruited to take part in the six-month trial, from Manchester Royal Infirmary and a local community practice which is collaborating in the research programme, "We had an excellent response to our funding call and it was difficult to choose just two out of the eleven projects submitted," said BRC director Prof Phil Baker.

"The BRC funding will enable these key trials to go ahead, and play an important part in developing treatments that will ultimately save lives." The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Manchester Biomedical Research Centre is a partnership between the Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and The University of Manchester. The BRC also receives funding from the North West Regional Development Agency. The NIHR provides the framework through which the research staff and research infrastructure of the NHS in England is positioned, maintained and managed as a national research facility. The NIHR provides the NHS with the support and infrastructure it needs to conduct first-class research funded by the Government and its partners alongside high-quality patient care, education and training. Its aim is to support outstanding individuals (both leaders and collaborators), working in world class facilities (both NHS and university), conducting leading edge research focused on the needs of patients. http://www.nihr.ac.uk/