£2.1million Cash Boost for Child Health Research by Leading Children’s Charities Including Sheffield Based Project

Sheffield Hallam University’s Dr Susan Campbell received £189,024 from Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity and Sparks, the children’s medical research charity, to fund research into the advancement of treatment of Vanishing White Matter Disease.   

This is part of a £2.1 million investment into child health research projects across the UK lead by the two charities – the largest annual charitable call dedicated to funding research into child health conditions.  

GOSH Charity and Sparks invited researchers from across the UK to apply for funding as part of a process call the ‘national call’. This injection of funds in to paediatric research will provide a huge boost to an area of research that is severely underfunded, receiving only five per cent of public and charitable research funding in the UK each year1

Dr Susan Campbell will investigate whether monitoring the specific distribution pattern of molecules affected in Vanishing White Matter Disease could pave the way to faster, less invasive diagnosis and treatments for this rare and devastating brain condition where brain cells are damaged and depleted. 

Dr Susan Campbell says, “I am delighted to have received funding from GOSH Charity and Sparks which will enable us to further our research to help children with Vanishing White Matter Disease. It’s fantastic to know that these charities are making such a large amount available for child health researchers across the UK to bid for each year.” 

The £2.1 million will support 12 pioneering projects researching some of the most difficult and hard to treat childhood diseases. Based at eight institutions across the UK from Sheffield to London, they aim to improve diagnosis and develop more effective and kinder treatments for children who desperately need them. 

The successful projects included research into pioneering gene therapy for children with difficult-to-treat epilepsy, creating superpowered immune cells to treat a range of childhood tumours, finding new treatments for an aggressive childhood brain tumour (DIPG) and understanding the genetic causes of skeletal disorders in children. 

The commitment to paediatric research funding reflects GOSH Charity and Sparks’ ambitions to help unlock breakthroughs in children’s medicines that will find treatments and cures for seriously ill children with rare and complex conditions.  

This year, for the first time the national call also involves partnering with rare disease charities Krabbe UK and Dravet Syndrome UK, thereby increasing the funding available. Dravet Syndrome UK has jointly funded a research project aiming to unlock the potential of gene therapy to treat Dravet Syndrome, while Krabbe UK has provided funding to a project to explore the potential of a new stem cell treatment for Krabbe disease. This demonstrates the commitment from GOSH Charity and Sparks to boost funding into research into the most complex of conditions and highlights the importance of collaboration to fund the highest quality research.   

Kiki Syrad, Director of Grants and Impact at Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity says: “We were delighted to receive a large number of high-quality applications from the UK pediatric research community on a range of diseases. For many children, research is their only hope. We look forward to seeing how Dr Campbell’s project progresses, and the call re-opening later in 2019.”  

The projects supported also reflect the ambition of both GOSH Charity and Sparks to drive new tests and therapies from the lab bench to the patient’s bedside, speeding up the diagnosis and treatment of rare and complex conditions.

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