Renewed funding for national childhood arthritis research centre

The UK’s first and only research centre dedicated to testing better and more effective drug treatments for children with arthritis and related conditions has secured a further three years of funding from the charity Versus Arthritis.

The Experimental Arthritis Treatment Centre for Children (EATC4Children) is based in Liverpool at Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Liverpool.

Since launching in 2014 the EATC4Children has led a wide range of studies including the landmark APTITUDE trial to improve treatment for children with the severe inflammatory eye condition uveitis, and a major programme of translational research into childhood lupus.

Professor Michael Beresford, Professor of Child Health at the University of Liverpool and Director of the EATC4Children explained: “The UK’s EATC4Children has been instrumental over the past six years, nationally and internationally, in tackling these major inflammatory conditions affecting children and young people.

“This renewed commitment from Versus Arthritis 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.”

Dr Neha Issar-Brown, Versus Arthritis’ Director of Research said: “The UK’s EATC4Children has already made great strides in improving our care and understanding of childhood autoimmune conditions.

“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. 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.

“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.”

Professor Louise Kenny, Executive Pro-Vice Chancellor, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at the University of Liverpool added: “The University of Liverpool is delighted that the flagship UK ‘Experimental Arthritis Treatment Centre for Children’ (EATC4Children) has been renewed for a further three years.

“The health and wellbeing of children and young people locally, nationally and indeed globally is a key strategic research priority for the University. We are therefore honoured to partner with Alder Hey on this critical initiative which seeks to provide innovation and impact and to alleviate the significant burden of morbidity associated with these devastating and often neglected diseases.

“Under the inspirational leadership of Professor Michael Beresford, the EATC4Children has become a beacon of translational research excellence and we are proud to support the critical contribution of this centre and Professor Beresford and his team.”

The EATC4Children works in close partnership with colleagues at the University of Sheffield, University of Bristol and University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust.

The £600K funding award from Versus Arthritis will run from March 2021.

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