Versus Arthritis has funded three more years of research into therapies for juvenile arthritis and related conditions at the U.K. Experimental Arthritis Treatment Centre for Children (EATC4Children) with a £600,000 (about $850,000) grant.
“We are delighted to continue our partnership with the EATC4Children, an enormously important research centre helping to deliver our commitment and goal to support experimental medicine, which can transform the lives of children affected by arthritis and related conditions,” Neha Issar-Brown, PhD, Versus Arthritis’ director of research, said in a press release.
Based at Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Liverpool, EATC4Children is a translational biomedical research consortium, focused on improving the health and well-being of young people with arthritis and similar conditions.
In particular, the consortium works to identify therapies not yet tested in children, from treatments in early stages of research to those undergoing clinical trials.
“What is commendable is that all of their work is inspired by and involves children, young people, and their families, and is always directed towards answering the priority questions they have,” Issar-Brown added. “This speaks to Versus Arthritis’ ambition to ensure our research is aligned with the impact on individuals, especially children and young people — an otherwise overlooked demographic.”
EATC4Children conducted a Phase 2 trial called APTITUDE (EudraCT 2015-001323-23), testing the safety and efficacy of RoActemra (tocilizumab, sold as Actemra in the U.S.) as therapy for difficult-to-treat uveitis — a severe childhood arthritis-associated eye inflammation.
Although trial findings did not support the launch of a Phase 3 study, they indicated that some patients might find RoActemra useful in cases where their condition proves resistant to treatments such as the immunosuppressant methotrexate and anti-TNF medications, which work to lower inflammation.
EATC4Children also participated in the creation of the MRC Stratified Medicine CLUSTER Consortium, a collaborative research initiative working to personalize treatments and predict the outcomes of childhood arthritis and uveitis.
As a final example, EATC4Children has led several studies into juvenile-onset systemic lupus erythematosus. This disorder tends to be more severe than adult lupus, require more intense treatments, and can affect any organ in the body.
The consortium is also investigating other conditions, including scleroderma, and metabolic, inflammatory, and orthopedic bone-related disorders.
“This renewed commitment from Versus Arthritis,” said Michael Beresford, PhD, EATC4Children’s director, “enables us to take forward our world-leading translational biomedical research (bench-to-bedside and back again) that helps us improve our understanding, our care and most importantly, the health and wellbeing of children and young people growing up with these life-changing disorders.”
Louise Shepherd, chief executive at Alder Hey, added: “The more research we can do linking directly the bench-to-bedside in to helping improve our understanding, care and the quality of life and outcomes for children, the better. Through partnership working we can help achieve better outcomes for children in the region, across the UK and beyond.”
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