New Manchester research unit to test medicines for children
A new unit is being set up at the Royal Manchester Children's
Hospital (RMCH) to help develop and test new medicines and
treatments for children. It is the first in the North West and one
of only four across England.
The Wellcome Trust Children's Clinical Research Facility
(WTCCRF) will be run by Dr Nick Webb and a team of colleagues, to
ensure that new drugs and treatments being developed are safe for
children. They will work closely with the Wellcome Trust Clinical
Research Facility, which hosts clinical trials for both adults and
The new unit is also supported and funded by the National
Institute for Health Research. "At present, over 50% of medicines
given to children do not have a paediatric licence, and as such
accurate dosing and safety information may not be available. It is
not simply a case of reducing the adult dose of a medicine to make
it suitable for babies and children,"
Explained Dr Webb "We need to tailor treatments specifically for
children, taking into account factors not necessarily important in
adults, including growth and development."Many children who are
treated at RMCH and their families are keen to take part in trials
of new treatments for long term conditions such as cancer, kidney
disease and metabolic disorders, as well as acute problems such as
burns and other injuries."
The new unit will have six beds and access to RMCH's cutting
edge equipment and highly trained nursing staff, so that children
can take part in in-patient studies of new medicines alongside
their ongoing treatment. It will offer paediatric medicine experts
and pharmaceutical companies developing new medicines a state of
the art facility which complies with all current clinical trials
and research legislation.
The unit was officially opened on Thursday 12th November by
Professor Sir Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust and
former Professor of Medicine at Imperial College London. The first
trials are ready to begin, and will include studies on metabolic
and renal conditions. Welcoming the new unit in Manchester, Dr
Vanessa Poustie, Assistant Director of the National Institute for
Health Research Medicines for Children Research Network, said: "A
key component of our activity is focused on experimental medicine
and on increasing network capacity to undertake early phase and
translational research. The creation of this additional unit will
significantly enhance our ability to meet the requirements of the
pharmaceutical industry and the academic community."
New EU legislation introduced in 2007 makes it mandatory for
pharmaceutical companies developing new drugs to carry out drug
dosing, safety and efficacy studies in children. The lack of
children's CRFs has limited the amount of testing that can be done
in the UK. A spokesman for the Association of British
Pharmaceutical Industries (ABPI) said: "We welcome the
establishment of the new research unit at RMCH. It will help drive
the development of medicines specifically designed to treat
children and reinforces the standing of Manchester as a leading hub
for biomedical research and life sciences."
Added Dr Webb: "Manchester has an outstanding reputation for its
world class research. As home to one of the UK's leading children's
hospitals and the Manchester Biomedical Research Centre, the city
is the ideal location for this new unit. In time, it will help to
make a huge difference to the health and well-being of children
across the North West and beyond."